Dir: Park Chan-wook (Sympathy for Mr. Vengence / Boksuneun naui geot)
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Kim Ok-vin, Kim Hae-sook, Shin Ha-kyun, Park In-hwan, Eriq Ebouaney
South Korea, 2009
Seen: August 7, 2009 at AMC
Reason to see: South Korean Vampire Film
Reason to Review: Vampathon: Vampire Film Marathon *
I had been looking forward to seeing Thirst since I first heard about it earlier this year, it won the Jury Prize at Cannes 2009, it was at Fantasia 2009 and it's a vampire film with a priest and a medical experiment gone wrong. How could I resist?
It isn't quite what I expected, although retrospectively considering Park Chan-wook's others works such as Sympathy for Mr. Vengence / Boksuneun naui geot, I feel like I should have anticipated the distant and visceral tone. Add to that themes of religion, martyrdom, vengeance and survival and you have a recipe for one cold film. An exploration on these themes could have been interesting but it felt like a device to show violence, gore and general grossness framed from the point of view of necessity or desire.
It did successfully create sympathy in the oddest places, but sympathy usually happens when really awful things are going on so we are subjected to seeing the rotten stuff as well. I did treasure a few beautiful and surreal moments in the film, specifically tender moments between Song Kang-ho and Kim Ok-vin. While the majority of the film feels like drama, but there also strong elements of horror that were very unnerving.
It is a unique vampire story, like a coming of age vampire film but from a very adult perspective. Although the vampire aspect is an essential part of the plot and characters it feels so much colder and distant that what we are used to. The heart of the film lies in an exploration on resistant survival, which is an uncomfortable and awkward journey to watch.
Shannon's Overall View:
I wanted to enjoyed it
It's unlikely I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it fans of both vampire and vengeance films
Preshow including 5 commercials and 3 previews: Cairo Time, Daybreakers and H2
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© Shannon Ridler, 2009
* Vampathon is a 16 week marathon explore vampire films from Nosferatu (1922) up to the upcoming release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon