Long-time readers of my reviews may remember me raving about Oldboy, way back in 2007: a mind-bending thriller with a gripping, shocking plot, powerful acting and ingenious, impish direction that is quite unlike anything I had ever seen. If you haven’t seen it, I’d still strongly recommend finding it. Now, if I tell you that Thirst is the latest offering from Oldboy’s director, the brilliant Park Chan-wook (who is also the mastermind behind such titles as Lady Vengence and I’m a Cyborg but That’s Okay), you may be able to guess the tone this review will take. Regular readers will probably be able to guess the following paragraphs word for word when I say that Thirst is Chan-wook’s take on the vampire genre.
Cover of Thirst
Thirst is a smart, funny and very sexy take on everyone’s favourite parasitic monsters. It tells the tale of the misadventures of Sang-hyun, a young Korean priest who is accidentally turned into a vampire as a result of some rather unusual scientific research. While Sang-hyun tries to reconcile his faith with his new bloodlust, he finds himself embroiled with Tae-ju, a beautiful if somewhat devious young woman. There’s one problem, however, Tae-ju is married. What follows is a deliciously bizarre tale of morality, adultery, murder and sex. It’s a neat role-reversal twist on the usual vampire romance setup, with some unusual character developments and impishly nasty scenes in the film’s third act that are almost guaranteed to surprise you. Full of pitch-black humour, gruesome gore and clever set-pieces, this is as unusual and surprising as Chan-wook’s best work, a testament to his versatility as a director.
Part stomach-churning horror, part black comedy, part morality tale, it melts-together genres into a typically strange mish-mash. Viewers expecting a familiar gory horror or dark romance might be a little disappointed, as will anyone expecting a supernatural version of the Vengence trilogy, this is an offbeat fantasy that reminds me of Chan-wook’s I’m A Cyborg… or Guillermo Del Toro’s brilliant Cronos. It sometimes misses the mark, but it’s a refreshingly different film that’s well worth checking out, and if you’re a fan of the director, you’ll enjoy looking out for some of his trademarks throughout.