"Seriously, it's like watching an R-rated version of Twilight. It's that pathetic."
Director: Park Chan-wook
Writer: Park Chan-wook, Seo-Gyeong Jeong
Producer: Park Chan-wook
Cast: Shin Ha-kyun, Kim Hae-suk, Song Kang-ho, Kim Ok-bin, Park In-hwan
Running Time: 133 min.
Plot: Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho) is a priest who cherishes life; so much so, that he selflessly volunteers for a secret vaccine development project meant to eradicate a deadly virus. But the virus takes the priest, and a blood transfusion is urgently ordered up for him. The blood he receives is infected, so Sang-hyun lives – but now exists as a vampire. Struggling with his newfound carnal desire for blood, Sang-hyun’s faith is further strained when a childhood friend’s wife, Tae-ju (Kim Ok-vin) comes to him asking for his help in escaping her life. Sang-hyun soon plunges into a world of sensual pleasures, finding himself on intimate terms with the Seven Deadly Sins.
NINGEN'S REVIEW: Thirst is about a priest who becomes the participant of some weird experiment, because he believes it will help dying patients. Unfortunately, Father Sang-Hyun becomes a vampire in the process. And his desire for blood somehow gets him entangled with a family he was acquainted with as a child. The adopted daughter in the group, Tae-Ju, sleeps around on the mom's son with the Padre, and, from there, the situation escalates.
I remember a guy on a board now long gone who was not really impressed with Oldboy, and even argued that there's no point in remaking it, because it's so "Hollywood", that it'd just be cheaper to redub it in English. While I was fairly disappointed at the flick coming off a bit anti-climactic for my tastes, I was still willing to let that comment slide until Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. Unfortunately, I lost track of the story around the half-way point, and it ended up being more of a torture porn flick than a revenge flick, even though revenge was a factor.
So I was hoping third time would be the charm with Thirst, since I missed out on "I'm a Cyborg, But That's Ok" and "Mr. Vengeance". But I have to say I'm sort of agreeing with that ex-flamer. I really don't see anything innovative from Park Chan-Wook, other than with his flashy and bold set designs and wardrobes. His style of story-telling lacks nuance and his characters lack more distinctive personalities. [His actors do a good job with moving the story forward, but their roles are generally under-developed.]
And Thirst is no exception to PCW's "style". It's basically every indie murder movie flick ever made with a vampire theme attached to it. It's got a male lead forced to resort to criminal behavior, a femme fatale, a dysfunctional family, unsuspecting locals turned into victims, etc. In addition, half the time, I can't even tell if the movie's really meant to be a parody, because it's so pedestrian in the way it (literally) goes for the jugular, rather than actually provide a new take on the genre.
For example, while there's plenty of blood-sucking to go around, the movie cops out where it really counts-with suspenseful moments like the male of the house-hold, Kang-woo, nearly getting stabbed in his sleep by Tae-Ju. The knife she uses just gets close to his body, and then gets pulled away. And even the victims are sort of "slurped" behind closed doors. I'm not expecting Hostel or Saw-style violence, but there has to be a feeling of shock from the experience. And, unfortunately, you can predict who's gonna be next a mile away. Maybe the details aren't obvious, but they don't really up the impact of the scenes.
The other issue I have is that Thirst ends up turning into a relationship flick, more than a horror flick. The viewer has to sit through a incredibly tedious soft-core sex scene, a pointless lover's spat, and discussions on emotional issues. Seriously, it's like watching an R-rated version of Twilight. It's that pathetic.
But if I have anything positive to say about Thirst, it's that the cast is very believable, in spite of being wasted. The actors don't play the self-awareness game. Nor do they ham up their parts. They keep their scenes grounded in the reality of the setting. And their performances are the only reason that I can stand the wretched pacing of the movie.
So, if you go to see Thirst, expecting some Dead Alive/Braindead-type action, you'll be disappointed. But if you like horror movies to take their time getting to the good stuff, while giving you a feeling of being creeped out without actually experience it on-screen, then Thirst will probably deliver for you.
NINGEN'S RATING: 9/10 Sets, lighting, and outfits: 8/10 Story: 6/10 Movie in general: 5.5/10