Could werewolves be primed for a comeback? One of the perennial horror movie monsters, werewolves haven’t enjoyed the recent surges in popularity as either vampires or zombies. Hollywood has almost bludgeoned horror fans with zombie movies and television series over the last decade or so. And vampires always seem to be just on the fringes. Maybe it’s the VFX required to convincingly commit the werewolf to the screen. But werewolves as a metaphor for our primal urges or repressed desires should lend itself to the genre. This certainly seems like the direction new werewolf thriller Bloodthirsty takes in its story of a indie struggling to follow up her successful debut.
Following a successful debut, indie recording star Grey struggles on coming up with material for her next album. Desperate to hold on to her success and break through even bigger, Grey lands with enigmatic producer, Vaughn Daniels. Despite a checkered history that includes a past murder charge, Grey and her girlfriend, Charlie, head to his remote home to record new material. Though Vaughn proves to be eccentric, he connects with Grey and the results are beautifully crafted new songs. But as Grey dives deeper into her own creative drives she behaves more erratically. And even as Charlie urges her to leave, Grey refuses, willing to risk becoming more entangled in Vaughn’s dark secret to taste more success.
Bloodthirsty Puts Clever Twist on the Movie Werewolf
Yet again Bloodthirsty is an indie horror movie that demonstrates what can be done with limited resources. Director Amelia Moses largely confines her movie to a single setting with a small cast. But this is no way limits the scares. Instead on leaning on special effects, Moses sidesteps the problems of convincingly putting a werewolf on screen by focusing on mood and character. Early in the movie we suspect that Grey is a werewolf. But Moses uses dream sequences, edits and cuts, and uncomfortable moments to set mood and build suspense. That is, Bloodthirsty instantly positions itself as a story about Grey’s hunger for fame rather than a ‘stalk and slash’ monster movie. As for the transformation itself, Bloodthirsty again uses actress Lauren Beatty’s physical performance, edits, and long camera shots to create the illusion.
…Bloodthirsty doesn’t get mired in werewolf mythology.
To a large extent, Bloodthirsty’s approach to the material works due to its screenplay. Writers Wendy Hill-Tout and Lowell steer the movie around its supernatural elements. Specifically, Bloodthirsty doesn’t get mired in werewolf mythology. Instead, Hill-Tout and Lowell craft horror elements into Grey’s obsession with fame and failure. Most violence occurs offscreen, with only the aftermath shown. Due its focus on story and character, quiet moments between characters or brief exchanges – particularly one between Vaughn’s caretaker and an ill-fated hitchhiker – produce most of the movie’s horror. Where the story loses some traction is in its final act. An unnecessary twist takes some of the attention away from the movie’s carefully laid out subtext.
Bloodthirsty Loses Some Focus In Its Third Act
To date, Starry Eyes remains one of the better horror movies to skewer the entertainment industry. Somewhere in Hill-Tout and Lowell’s story is a similarly biting commentary on the fame machine. Just Bloodthirsty’s use of the ‘werewolf’ as an allegory for the dangers of unbridled ambition is in and of itself clever. As mentioned above, however, the story loses some of its focus in that final act. Yes, Bloodthirsty’s commentary always feels more subtle as compared to Starry Eyes. Its examination of Grey’s hunger for success is rooted more in her relationships with girlfriend Charlie and Vaughn. And the movie’s ending benefits somewhat from ambiguity. But Bloodthirsty sometimes fails to fully explore its own concept.
…their relation ship focuses more on Vaughn’s mysterious background at the expense of the movie’s allegorical tale.
In part, Bloodthirsty loses the beat when its focus shifts to the nature of Grey and Vaughn’s relationship. Both Lauren Beatty (Jigsaw) and Greg Bryk (Rabid, Saw V) are uniformly excellent. As Grey, Beatty’s performance goes far beyond wide-eyed naivete giving the character layers. And Bryk channels charisma and menace in equal measures. The chemistry between the actors is also strong. Nonetheless, their relationship focuses more on Vaughn’s mysterious background at the expense of the movie’s allegorical tale. Lost in the shuffle, Katherine King So’s Charlie gets increasingly relegated to the background. As a result, Bloodthirsty loses a connection to its own themes. But as a bonus for horror fans, Michael Ironside (Scanners, V) turns up in a small role.
Bloodthirsty Re-Invents Werewolf Tropes For
Our cultural obsession with fame alongside the ‘likes-base’ culture of social media seems like an easy target for horror. To date, however, few horror movies have nailed the satire. Though it’s not entirely successful, Bloodthirsty’s werewolf story of the lengths we’ll go to achieve our deepest desires mostly nails its subtext. True, it’s final twist feels unnecessary. Moreover, it somewhat derails the movie’s bigger ideas. But Bloodthirsty proves to be an effectively atmospheric and haunting story. Alongside strong performances, Moses at the very least crafts one of the better werewolf movies in recent memory.