Fantastic Fest has been an intense celebration of great film and werewolves this year. Bloodthirsty fits in nicely here. It’s also a great cross-pollination of Joe Dante’s The Howling and John Fawcett’s Ginger Snaps and goes long way to elevate both body horror and lycanthrope lore.
Bloodthirsty comes from director Amelia Moses and writers Wendy Hill-Tout and singer-songwriter Lowell. The trio compliment each other nicely throughout the run of the film.
The story revolves around Grey a pop-star in the process of recording her second album after her first well-received entry. The pressure of being under the spotlight combined with her own past has caused her to have intense and often vicious hallucinations. That’s when Grey and her girlfriend Charlie receive an invitation from world renowned producer, Vaughn Daniels. The invitation takes them to a secluded cabin in the middle of the snowy wilderness where Grey begins to record her sophomore album. However, as Grey starts to record her album the hallucinations begin to become more intense and it turns out that their lovely producer Vaughn might have some murderous skeletons in his own closet.
The soundtrack for Bloodthirsty is a hungry and revealing through-line that ultimately separates this film from the pack. Each song, written by Lowell expands Grey and her character just as much as the visual FX do in terms of transformation. Added to that, the songs are just really good. I had to do a quick Google to see if the title track was available for purchase. Creating a great song is one thing, creating a great song that expands on an entire film arc is something else and boy is that done well here.
Lead actress Lauren Beatty is absorbing and manages to create an onscreen transformation that feels entirely organic. Her ability to flawlessly and simultaneously be vulnerable, elegant and menacing all at the same time is the central piece of the film working as a whole. Beatty disappears into this role and emanates a deeply personal connection to Grey.
The isolation of the film works well as the backdrop for Grey’s psyche. Moses creates a constricting world that puts you and its main character in the same tight confines, and makes you just as desperate as her to escape.
“It’s hypnotic approach like rows of teeth
tightening around around your neck.”
Vaughn played by Greg Bryk brings an approach built out of a pure quite menace. The entire approach rests on charm. It ultimately makes the character of Vaughn someone that you would definitely want to keep your eye on but also has enough charm that you believe trusting him and following him down a possibly not so brightly lit path.
When it comes to werewolf films, its important to get down to brass tacks in the VFX. Ever since An American Werewolf in London and The Howling set the bar for on-screen transformations, it has become something that lycan films reach for. So, it’s great to see what Bloodthirsty does with its own transformation. We get the full on wolf out in a really well-done metamorphosis that uses pain as a backboard for stretching fingers and cracking maws and the reveal of an awesome monster.
I love films about writers block and the process of creating. Bloodthirsty almost frustratingly expresses the intricacies of that block and that fear of not knowing if your work will even be accepted once it does come out. The isolation, the transformation and constant self-discoveries are shown to great effect throughout. Best of all, all this could have been its very own drama picture without the horror elements and totally worked. But, the rage that an onscreen werewolf illustrates is at the core of many a writer block session.
Bloodthirsty hits all the right notes in furthering werewolf lore. It’s hypnotic approach like rows of teeth tightening around around your neck. A careful and plotted approach to the development of its characters carries nicely through a film that very much could have just been a drama and still worked. In fact, that’s what makes Bloodthirsty work as well as it does, it isn’t wearing its werewolf fangs on its sleeve. Instead the slow burn approach works here two-fold and makes the blood, gore and teeth pieces fly late in the film. Bloodthirsty is heatbreaking, transformative and gory, and takes you in places that few lycan films have gone before.