October 23, 2009 in Features

‘Thirst’ takes vampires to an even darker level

Roger Moore Orlando Sentinel
 

The juvenile heavy-petting of “Twilight” gives way to all-out Korean kink in “Thirst,” a macabre, darkly humorous and at times nauseating vampire tale from the director of “Old Boy,” Park Chan-Wook.

Park gives us geysers of blood, gallons of gore and sound effects cranked up so that every squishy bite, slurp, gurgle and bodily function hits you in full Surround Sound.

A priest (Song Kang-ho) who “only wants to do good” offers himself as a subject in a medical experiment. Something goes wrong, and even though he’s the only one of 500 in the test to survive, he emerges with suspicious symptoms.

His skin blisters in sunlight. He can hear everything, smell blood from across a room and sense veins under your skin. Oh, and he hangs upside down and can leap buildings in a single bound.

He needs blood, but he resolves to take it from coma patients who won’t miss it in the hospital where he ministers. But that changes when he sees Tae-ju (Kim Ok-vin). He must have her. And she lures him into greater and greater sins as he succumbs to her charms.

Park tempts the viewer with the kinkiest vampire sex ever – then revolts us with grisly blood-sucking.

The script overreaches, touching on suicide, end-of-life issues and a murder mystery that doesn’t pan out.

But “Thirst” is a grim antidote to the sanitized, pale young things of “Twilight” and “True Blood.” The undead may be dead sexy, but Park reminds us that neck biting is nasty business.

“Thirst” is playing at the Magic Lantern Theatre.

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