Published Aug 06, 2009Chan-wook Park's newest near-masterpiece should be a final nail in the coffin for lingering doubts that foreign filmmakers aren't more tasteful handlers of vampire mythology than their Western counterparts. Easily the best mediation on the morality of blood-sucking this century, Thirst is also the most sympathetic portrayal of a human coming to terms with the legendary affliction.
A priest of dubious faith volunteers for an experimental treatment for EV that goes horribly awry, facilitating a clever accidental infestation of vampirism. Returned from death and healed of EV, Priest Sang-hyeon is hailed as a miracle worker. As the nature of his otherworldly transformation begins to manifest, Sang-hyeon's EV is only kept in check by regular feedings, which he attempts to accomplish as innocently as possible, sucking the IV of a comatose man who once told the priest of his joy for feeding the needy.
Compounding the priest's moral conundrums is a growing attraction to his childhood friend's wife, a woman so bored and repressed that she fakes sleepwalking to escape from her slovenly husband. Lustful, despair-driven companionship is the precarious spark igniting a downward spiral of deceit and brutality.
A few years removed from the completion of his vengeance trilogy, Chan-wook Park still has a vitriolic taste for retribution, but Thirst is an evolved beast. Darkly comic, frankly sensual, elegantly shot, scored and acted (by the chameleon talents of The Host's Kang-ho Song), Thirst injects new life into a tale that, barring Let the Right One In, has been sucked dry by Hollywood's instance on formulaic regurgitations designed to whet the shaved taste buds of tweens. (Alliance)