Written By: JR
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Park Chan-Wook
Producer: Ahn Soo-Hyun, Park Chan-Wook et al.
Screenwriter: Emile Zola, Park Chan-Wook, and Jeong Seo-Kyeong
Date of release: April 30, 2009
Song Kang-Ho as Priest Sang-Hyun
Kim Ok-Vin as Tae-Ju
Shin Ha-Kyun as Kang-Woo
Kim Hae-Sook as Mrs. Ra
Park In-Hwan as Priest Roh
Ra Mi-Ran as Nurse Yu
Mercedes Cabral as Evelyn
Rating = 4/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Sang-Hyun (Song Kang-Ho) feels that he ought to extend his priestly duties to help Africa find a cure to the ongoing epidemic. He volunteers to be infected by the virus but instead of dying, he is left with an intense craving for blood and sex. He quenches his thirst for blood from suicidal people in confessionals and patients who are in comatose. While visiting a patient’s house, he meets unhappily married Tae-ju (Kim Ok-Vin) who later grants him a sexual outlet. As their relationship thrives, Sang-Hyun is left struggling to hang on to his old morality.
Everyone who finds pleasure in gore and twisted sexuality can drink their fill from this film. Park Chan-Wook, director of the vicious award-winning film Old Boy, has taken his famed eroticization of violence, cruelty, and pain to feverish heights with this one. Whether the blood is imbibed from carotid arteries suddenly ruptured by a stab from a pair of kitchen shears or disgorged in a projectile vomit across a virginal white room, the film appears comic as it is chilling. The carnage in this film is a glaring craft of a sadist.
The Grave Review
Thirst (2009) is not your staple vampire horror-fantasy film. Probably because it is directed by Park Chan-Wook who has looted awards for his controversial films. What separates Thirst from all the films inspired from Bram Stoker’s Dracula is its satirical attack against social and religious hypocrisy. Taking its theme in mind, Chan-Wook has brilliantly created another taboo film that vilifies the sacred.
The choice of character profile is striking which makes the film irresistible at first impression. Imagine fusing a priest and a vampire. It would be totally fun to watch all the self-conflicts unfold. We catch Sang-Hyun, which by the way is perfected by Song Kang-Ho, while he cowers in keeping his morality, but it doesn’t end there. The rest of the characters swing wildly between gleeful lawlessness and tormented conscience up to their last gasp of decency. For all these reasons, the film becomes uneasily penetrating.
The environment itself speaks of confinement and liberation. There is a sense of freedom exposed through the brawling contrast of blood posed against the immaculate whiteness of the walls repainted by Sang-Hyun and Tae-Ju. However, there also exists a foreboding irony that their little infinity is trapped by the threatening expanse of sunlight as observed through the cinematic space. It is apparent that the filmmakers have taken efforts to charge the atmosphere with meaning.
The sex scenes are tastefully done, probably one of Chan-Wook’s expertise. Although some critics think that the premise is too limited to justify all the lovemaking, it almost feels like an awaited escape from eternal damnation. Besides a release from sexual repression, sex in the film works to articulate the course of emotions—from lust to guilt, triumph to defeat, luxury to restraint. After all, only a few filmmakers can manage to achieve both horror and love tragedy as clever and daring as this one.
Recalling all its merits, Thirst sets off a crisp take on the old vampire theme with an exciting rhythm and camerawork. It is loose in dramatic structure and tightly-knitted in perspective. It adorns viewers with delicious humor, sadism, and profanity.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Thirst (2009) four graves out of five graves.
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