THE TRANSFIGURATION (2016)
Written and Directed by Michael O’Shea
Milo isn’t your ordinary teenager. Sure, he goes to school and tries to dodge the local gangs that hang around his tower block like most other kids his age do but Milo’s favourite hobby involves watching YouTube videos of animals being slaughtered. When he’s not doing that he’s drinking the blood of an innocent in a toilet cubicle. Yes folks, he may not sparkle but Milo is a vampire. A real one, not like the ones in the movies. After meeting fellow teenager Sophie, Milo begins to realise his lifestyle isn’t so normal and that he must make a choice or risk threatening his blossoming relationship.
Slow-moving plod of a movie THE TRANSFIGURATION is a bleak look into the life of a young man who struggles day by day living as a vampire. Unlike other vampires, Milo doesn’t have fangs, he’s able to go out in the sunlight and he doesn’t have any superhuman powers. He’s just a boring average joe who must drink blood every so often in order to survive. Living with his older brother Louis, Milo seems an anomaly – none of his other family are “vampires” or have bloodsucking tendencies. A flashback seems to establish the moment when Milo became a vampire but it’s nothing like you would imagine i.e. being bit by another. Instead, Milo’s vampirism seems to be a lifestyle choice he’s brought upon himself, maybe just from wishing to be close to a loved one. However, this bloodlust now burns in him and every month he must go ‘hunting’ for his next meal. A few words with his councillor seems to suggest he’s moved away from harming cats, dogs and other animals but, as we discover from the opening scene, his attention has turned to something slightly bigger…
Eager to present a real a story as possible, THE TRANSFIGURATION plays out as though vampirism could actually exist in our society albeit not in the fictionalised way we’re accustomed to. We follow Milo’s day-to-day life, see what he gets up to in and out of school and realise he’s just a solitary teen trying to find his place in the world. With himself and his brother orphans, or at least without a present father, Milo’s lack of a meaningful relationship sees him seek solace elsewhere… through the consuming of blood. That is until he comes across Sophie, a teenager who’s just moved into the same building to live with her grandfather. She too feels isolated and alone, particularly with a grandparent who regularly beats and physical harms her, so it’s of little surprise she and Milo strike up a friendship. However, judging from the never changing expression on Milo’s face, you wouldn’t believe he was enjoying her company.
When I first heard about this film, a movie that has received such plaudits as depicted on the DVD cover, I was eager to see what the fuss was about. Unfortunately, the resulting effort is rather disappointing. Whilst I appreciate the realism that THE TRANSFIGURATION goes for, it really is as-dull-as-dishwater to watch. Lead character Milo says very little and just shuffles around town whilst the indie shot cam shakes behind him and from a distance. Even his new relationship with fellow loner Sophie lacks any real intimacy with Milo constantly looking like a dear in the headlights. The only time any part of the film raises an emotion is when he eagerly invites Sophie to watch videos with him and she’s forced to sit through videos of animals being sliced and diced at a slaughterhouse – something which Milo finds riveting. As he suddenly becomes guilty about his secret hunger pangs thanks to his newfound relationship, we start to see Milo question his lifestyle as he appears to try and choose between the two. Unfortunately, it’s not as interesting as it sounds and the film meanders on to its unsatisfying, albeit unpredicted, climax.
If you’re heavily into the dramatic side of what it must be like needing to drink blood, this film may be of interest. However, if you’re more of a horror nut and want a bit more of a classic, entertaining take on the whole “living as a vampire”, then I highly suggest you watch the brilliant Kiss of the Damned… or the “ultra-realistic” What We Do In The Shadows 😉