Bloodthirsty is the latest release to take on the werewolf horror genre. Rather than being the full-on gore-fest that the title might suggest, this film is a slow-burning, character piece that for the most part works fairly well although the execution is hit and miss.
The film follows Grey (Lauren Beatty), a singer-songwriter struggling to write the music for her second album after a successful debut. Grey is a vegan yet suffers from severe hallucinations where she’s dripping in blood, eating meat with her hands turning into claws. She’s prescribed medication from her doctor (Michael Ironside) to prevent the hallucinations, which she takes reluctantly. Grey then receives an offer from a reclusive producer with a troubled past, Vaughn Daniels (Greg Byrk), who wants to help her work on her troublesome second album.
Grey heads out into the snowy wilderness with girlfriend Charlie (Katharine King So), to stay with Vaughn in his isolated home in the country. On arrival, they’re shown to their room by odd housekeeper Vera (Judith Buchan) and explore the house before meeting Vaughn. Vaughn’s troubled past involves an acquittal for the murder of a previous musician working at his studio, which Charlie is keen to remind Grey as they reside at the house, despite Vaughn’s explanation of the true story behind the crime. And as work on Grey’s music progresses, her hallucinations return and her developing relationship with Vaughn begins to have bloody consequences.
I’m not usually a fan of very slow-moving films, however, I actually think this style works really well for Bloodthirsty. Horror films are usually a little too in your face and over the top, but there is just enough intrigue and hints of werewolf in the first half of this film for it to never be dull. What helps is the fantastic original music by Canadian singer Lowell which adds a haunting and beautiful feel to the film and really helps boost the overall ambience. For such a small film, the cinematography is surprisingly well done and in keeping with the overall theme and atmosphere and aside from a few questionable camera angles, it looks great. The problem with being a slow burner though is that it has to build and lead to a climactic or satisfying ending, and I’m not sure Bloodthirsty achieves this. The reveal of the werewolf has good physical effects and make-up, but the features are a little disappointing and not quite the werewolf physicality I was expecting. There is a lot of blood and gore which helps, but it doesn’t quite make up for the overall disappointment.
This is also a character-driven piece, focusing on Grey and her beast-like tendencies and the deterioration of both her life and her relationship. Lauren Beatty does well with her performance, although I think she’s let down by far too obvious dialogue and a character who is fairly one-dimensional who makes questionable decisions. Greg Byrk brings a sinister and rather ominous air to every scene he’s in, even if just in the background, and for the most part, this works although he does occasionally feel a little like a pantomime villain. Story-wise, I was pleasantly surprised as there is a twist in the final act that I hadn’t expected however I think the execution, especially Grey’s attitude to it, really let it down.
Overall I think Bloodthirsty was better than I expected, mainly due to the slow-burning nature that had a lot of promise and was boosted by a terrific soundtrack. However, it was let down by some questionable execution and character development, as well as a disappointing werewolf reveal.
Signature Entertainment presents Bloodthirsty at FrightFest 29th August and on Digital Platforms & DVD 30th August
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!