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Movie: Thirst

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THIRST is one of those movies that has lurked about in the periphery of my movie radar for a little while now. One of those films that, while I wasn’t overly informed about, I knew it was something that I’d check out — and probably enjoy — sooner or later. As luck would have it this Korean horror (Korror?) arrived in my in-box, amongst a massive collection of other new releases, just as the new year kicked off. I’m glad to say too, that this is a very interesting stroll through some territory which is currently being strip-mined in most forms of popular media: The angst-ridden Vampire love story.

Sang-hyeon [Kang-ho Song] (The Host) defies every modern vampire convention by being neither a high-school student, or running his own detective agency. He’s a priest. However, from the very beginning his vocation is on shaky ground, even more so after he volunteers to be part of a medical experiment designed to find a cure for a horrible disease. Via means that are not explored or explained the priest is given a transfusion of vampire blood and manages to survive an otherwise deadly bout of EV, the disease which he had volunteered to help cure.

Upon leaving the medical facility Sang-hyeon is greeted by those who believe his recovery to have been the result of some form of divine intervention. But when EV symptoms begin to return, the priest discovers that the only way to stave off the virus is to give in to his newfound lust for blood.

There are quite a few parts of this film that are frustratingly vague. The initial exposition is virtually non-existent. While the lack of character introduction points to either poor writing or over-zealous editing, the lack of explanation regarding some elements — such as where the hell the vampire blood comes from — can be dismissed, given that the protagonist never finds (or seeks) out this information.

As best he can Sang-hyeon attempts to live with his new infliction. He survives on the blood of a coma patient and, for a time, manages to fight the urge to give in to the overwhelming carnal desires that have been awoken in him, both by his vampire nature and his reacquaintance with Tae-ju [Ok-bin Kim], a girl from his childhood, who is now married to an old friend.

While thematically, Thirst shares many elements that have been explored to death in the recent explosion of vampire related movies, television shows, and comic books, it does manage to cover some new ground. It even manages a new take on what living with the guilt of the vampire’s new found lack of morality may bring. There is dark humour here, but I certainly wouldn’t label this movie as a comedy. Nor can it be shelved firmly in the horror category. This is a very interesting and enjoyable movie, even if it is a little confusing at times. It’s certainly one that is worth checking out before the US remake arrives! [source]

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