It's no secret that the vampire genre is an extremely well worn one, especially nowadays, but when Thirst first came out other vampire movies like Blade, Underworld, Twilight, Let the Right One In, I Am Legend, 30 Days of Night, Daybreakers and many others had just been released. So Thirst coming out in the midst of the vampire craze probably didn't do it any favors, nor did the fact that it was a foreign movie with very little mainstream publicity. The director Chan-wook Park, most famous for Oldboy and the Vengeance trilogy really had to work hard to differentiate Thirst from all the other vampire movies on offer, and to an extent, he did, kind of.
We're introduced to the utterly selfless good Samaritan and Priest Sang-hyeon (Kang-ho Song) as he volunteers to be infected with a deadly disease in the hopes of finding a cure, but instead he finds himself becoming a vampire, and this is where the originality ends for the most part in Thirst, at least story wise. The Priest is forced to live an existence he never wanted, Sang-hyeon doesn't want to kill people, he wants to help people, and as he struggles with the morality of his existence and his inner turmoil as he's forced to survive off the misery and suffering of others, all without taking a life, but it's becoming increasingly hard on him. Sang-hyeon falls in love with a young woman who's instantly enamored with him and the two proceed on an erotic and psycho-sexual relationship and even though it ends rather predictably, it was a lot of fun to watch them sneak around in a strangely docile household with no one the wiser.
Even still, they're all themes that have been explored quite extensively in the vampire genre already, although the eroticism is ramped up in Thirst, more than most others. Regardless of the mostly predictable narrative of Thirst, the superlative direction and the gorgeous and moody cinematography provided some genuinely exhilarating moments, and there's a nice streak of black comedy throughout it as well. The performances were all great, especially Tae-ju (Ok-bin Kim), she brought a lot of... delightful wickedness and zest to Thirst I thought. Tae-ju's transformation from the quiet introvert, to the powerful and dominate vampire was brilliant.
Without giving anything away, the ending was equally sad, funny, tragic and tender all at the same time. It was a very, very well done climax that had to balance a lot of different emotional states. There were a lot of individual highlights of Thirst, and yet it always seemed too vague and too enigmatic to truly come together into one coherent movie, as if it was missing one single thread to tie everything together into one cohesive movie. It felt like it was splintered somehow. It was a case of 'so close, but no cigar' for me I'm afraid. Vampire aficionados will probably find a lot to like in Thirst, and I'd recommend it to them too. Those who were lured in by the provocative and titillating marketing won't be disappointed either, and even though I felt like it lacked something to bring it all together, Thirst is still one of the more ambitious, more unique and more individual vampire movies I've seen in recent times, and I've seen a lot of 'em.
Written by - The Sentry - 05/06/2015