The Hughes Verdict
Fair play to Park Chan-Wook, while Michael Mann sees every new film of his being compared as the new Heat, Wook as managed to escape that fate as the shadow of the forever classic Oldboy is kept safely out of bay. The critical success of Sympathy For Mr Vengence, and Lady Vengence along with Oldboy have all been now tagged as the famous “revenge trilogy” and Wook is now known as one of the best directors around in the field today!
To say that Thirst his is first venture into horror is wrong! Oldboy itself with such a complex and disturbing theme is such a mind fuck that its virtually an horror in all but name. For Thirst is quite simply Vampires, but done the Wook way and you can probably guess, its not the way we used to. Now the theme of Vampires is a big trend at the moment. Young teens are going overboard with the Twilight saga, same with fans of Television who are awaiting with eager breath for Tru Blood to come back on. Its a genre that as been around for such a long time that it seems amazing that the plot that virtually is the same in all the versions as not become a bore to the modern audience.
Wook though somehow does the impossible and manages to inject a freshness not seen before in the the Vampire world! Its an oddity that may test the patience of many with its slow tedious at times pace, the film itself is neither shocking or scary, a negative comment because in the hands of Wook you would expect it to be. But it is a bitter sweet love story, a tragic tinted one that is beautifully played out with some startling images!
That may not please the horror fanatics looking for the required blood to sustain their interest but then this film is not made for them. The required fangs on show are nowhere around, just a wonderful performance by Song Kang-Ho who like in his Host performance, gives a fantastic effort. Here he plays Sang-Hyun who volunteers to be a test subject to find a vaccine for the deadly EV virus. The experiment goes wrong and without spoiling anything more, Song gets a thirst for blood in which he satisfies by feeding from the coma victims in the local hospital. Its this turn of events that leads him to meeting Tae-Joo (Kim Ok-Vin) who he embarks on an affair with that turns the film from a semi love story into something else…..
That something else is what you need to discover yourself. Now this is no classic and I honestly expected a lot more from this film. It does not quite strike the right balance between what its trying to achieve and at times there is too many scenes over lapping and with that you get a sense of frustration as you wait for it all to kick in! In some ways the entire structure is that of Let The Right One In, a thinking fairy tale that requires patience with a huge reward at the end. That reward is a film of striking beauty but one that fails to provide a haunting outlook. Its a love story in more ways than one, but just needed an extra energy to get it past the kind of soapy feel that riddles the film.
Its good, yes, but coming from the mind of Park Chan Wook, you quite rightly expected just a little bit more.