Directed by Amelia Moses
Warning: This one has some mild spoilers.
Bloodthirsty is a newish horror film directed by Amelia Moses which is co-written by Wendy Hill-Tout and pop songwriter/artist Lowell. It’s said the film draws on some of the experiences that Lowell was going through when it came time for her to record her second album. Well okay... so the lead protagonist in this movie is an orphan called Grey, played by Lauren Beatty. Grey is a pop artist and she is under a lot of pressure to put out her second album. But then the legendary record producer Vaughn (played by Greg Bryk) offers to work with her and produce her second album. So Grey and her girlfriend Charlie (played by Katharine King So) go up to stay with him and his housekeeper (played by Judith Buchan) in his large, remote, secluded house in the snowy woods somewhere, so she can get that all important second album under her belt.
However, Vaughn has a shady past and has been acquitted for a murder many years before which he may or have not committed (yeah, I think it’s fairly safe to say that Phil Spector may have been a slight inspiration for this character but, given the experiences of one of the writers, maybe not, who knows... scary if not, though). Also added into this mix is the fact that Grey’s psychiatrist, played by one of the great genre icons, Michael Ironside, in a couple of scenes which almost bookend the movie, has got Grey on pills to help prevent her hallucinations and constant nightmares that she turns into some kind of predatory animal in the night, hunting and eating other animals... you know, like tasty humans maybe.
Faster than you can say lycanthropy leviosa, record producer Vaughn is taking her out of her comfort zone, pushing her in strange ways to get her to loosen up and doing that whole creative thing of being... maybe a little unnecessarily challenging. However, by the time he has this ‘constant vegan’ Grey eating meat and abandoning her pills, you will probably be figuring out one or two more things about Vaughn and the true purpose of his wanting to work with Grey, which may be a clue into his past too.
Okay, so I’m not going to delve too much into the story. It’s a nicely made film and there’s some nice, crisp cinematography. The director sometimes chooses unusual and interesting solutions to the way the scenes are put together. In one sequence, for example, when Grey is having a conversation with her girlfriend, Charlie is in centre of the frame and Grey is reflected small in the mirror behind Charlie in the right of the shot. However, when the reverse of the shot is switched to, we have just a big mirror reflecting Grey in the right hand third of the shot and the rest of the shot is just static background of the room they are in... perhaps to push the visual metaphor that Grey is getting further and further alienated from Charlie as the story plays out.
It’s an entertaining, curiously claustrophobic piece and the actors are all pretty good, with Greg Bryk especially coming off as some kind of creepy version of Matthew McConaughey a lot of the time. That being said, I did have a couple of issues with the film and they both involve the story. And by that I mean... there are absolutely no surprises in this film. You can kind of see everything coming way before the delivery gets there. So, for example, there’s a big reveal about three quarters of the way through about the ancestry of one of the characters which you might even twig within the first 20 minutes of the film... which is a shame but the writing is not subtle in the things about the legacy of two of the characters so, you can’t help but feel there is a strong connection between them. Secondly, when one of the four characters I’ve mentioned gets killed in the final part of the movie, although the director tries very hard to divert the audience's attention as to who killed that character.... well, lets just say she fools nobody on that score.
But, despite all that, I thought the film holds up as a nice diversion. Bloodthirsty is not the most visceral of horror films but it does have a certain haunting quality to it. Many horror fans will like some of the references to other similarly themed films including at least two visual references to An American Werewolf In London... a film I thought was okay as a teen but could never understand the huge devotion it gets from werewolf fans the world over. I haven’t seen that one since the mid-1980s though so, yeah, maybe I should give that one another go sometime. I’m not sure if Bloodthirsty will be remembered in years to come but it’s a nice one for an evening’s viewing if you’re a fan of the sub-genre from which it is so obviously birthed. Worth a look.