Recently, it seems that zombies taking over the cinemas with ZOMBIELAND, PONTYPOOL and COLIN, whereas vampires have a stranglehold on television (forgetting TWILIGHT, which we should).
TRUE BLOOD has brought has given vampires back to the grown-ups and VAMPIRE DIARIES is something substantial for teenagers to get their teeth into, so it is good to see adult vampire flick hit the cinemas, and this time out of Korea.
Korea’s cinema is definitely enjoying a boom period at the moment, and not in small part thanks to director Park Chan-wook of OLD BOY fame. He has established a reputation for making highly original films and while his last film I’M A CYBORG, BUT THAT’S OK confounded audiences and critics alike, his take on the vampire genre is certainly fresh and gives it some humour without necessarily being a comedy.
In THIRST, a selfless Catholic priest volunteers to test a secret vaccine for a deadly virus. When the virus takes hold of him he is given an urgent blood transfusion, but the blood is infected (somehow) and it not only revives the priest but also turns him into a vampire with all the requisite traits of lust for blood, superhuman strength, healing and more difficult for a man of the cloth, a newfound passion of women. This is further complicated when the wife of his childhood friend sees the priest as her escape from her humdrum life.
As with nearly all contemporary vampire stories the priest is torn between his vampiric desires and his conscience as a man of the church, and it is this struggle that makes up a large part of the story. Thankfully, it is not an angst-filled film of denial as he gives in more often than not, thereby earning the movie an 18 certificate. The contradiction of a blood-sucking priest gives the film a little extra satirical edge (forgetting the whole crucifix issue) that could be seen as a commentary on the church in society today, although this is not necessarily the main point of the film.
This film is definitely worth seeing if you are one of the legion of vampire lovers that are fed up with some of the liberties that have been taken with the mythology recently, and it is all the more interesting for coming from one of Asia’s consistently inventive filmmakers.
THIRST is on general release now.