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Bloodthirsty Movie Review: More Blood, Please

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BY October 16, 2020
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Anyone who has read literally anything I’ve ever written probably thinks they could guess my reaction to Bloodthirsty. A horror movie that’s set at an icy, isolated locale AND it’s about a lady werewolf? Seems like Salome bait, to be honest, you’re saying. Well, it is bait, ’cause I fell for it, but let’s talk about that in my Bloodthirsty movie review.

Blood Thirst Trap: A Plot Summary

bloodthirsty movie review image via 775 Media Corp and Voice Pictures

Gray (Lauren Beatty) is an indie pop star, who’s trying desperately to avoid the sophomore slump. That’s how and why she ends up holing up with producer Vaughn (Greg Bryk) at his remote home. Not only is Vaughn esteemed, but he’s also notorious. It’s a story that’s semi-reminiscent of Phil Spector: the super-producer’s last protege died in a shooting. Vaughn was there, but the circumstances were apparently just fuzzy enough that he escaped charge. Unsurprisingly, knowing this does not make Grey’s girlfriend Charlie (Katherine King So) feel better about their trip.

It doesn’t help, of course, that Charlie sees Grey’s personality changing, the longer they stay at Vaughn’s. At first, she seems only to have found inspiration for her music, as well as a growing confidence. But why is Grey changing? And does it have anything to do with the strange dreams and visions she keeps having?

Bloodthirsty Movie Review: This Is Largely a Character Study

Although so far it’s had its world premiere only a couple of days ago at Fantastic Fest, where I saw it, Bloodthirsty has garnered several positive reviews. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to be another one. Overall, this movie just didn’t work for me and there are a few reasons why. For example, the positive reviews praised the film as atmospheric. While that’s certainly a word I could use to describe it, instead I thought it was a little too ephemeral. The stakes never seem that serious, for instance, and similarly, the movie and its characters seem hesitant to commit.

At its heart, lycanthropy is about desire, both the fear of it going unchecked and the urge to indulge it. Female lycanthropy is the same but turned up to eleven. A sexually aggressive lady person?! Heaven forfend. The movie treats this only superficially, though. Because what exactly are Grey’s desires? A hit album? I guess. Ostensibly this is a character study, but I feel as if the movie barely scratched their surfaces.

For example, Vaughn encourages Grey to ditch her anti-psychotic medication, to drink absinthe, and ultimately, to be her authentic self. But he never feels that menacing or even that firm, making his working relationship with Grey lack the tension it needs. (On that note, the lack of chemistry is also true of her relationship with Charlie, who’s so paper-thin she might as well not even be there. But she had to be, so she can be a plot point.) In addition, when they talk to each other, the dialogue is tedious, stilted, and feels overly constructed.

Further, once Grey’s evolution begins, the movie punts. Her authentic self gingerly sips blood from a refrigerated package of steak. She kills some animals. REMEMBER, SHE WAS A VEGAN, the movie announces in neon. This is supposed to be a dramatic departure.

And It’s Not Really a Horror Movie

bloodthirsty movie review ; image via 775 Media Corp and Voice PicturesIt’s only after an hour and change of repeated pop songs and dull conversation that we finally see her lycanthropic transformation. Again, the movie fumbles. It’s not that it’s a terrible transformation–I’ve seen worse. However, if you’re going to make your audience wait over an hour to see some werewolf stuff, then you have to nail it. Sadly, though, it’s just not there.

And maybe that’s the point? After all, those same reviews that have heaped praise upon the film haven’t mentioned one thing. None of them describe it as a particularly scary movie, probably because it’s not scary. It’s not even that disturbing, outside of the poor animals’ scenes. It’s just not a horror movie; at least, not one made for horror fans.

To put it another way, I’m an avid reader of mystery/thrillers. Sometimes, though, I’ll pick up a book that the publisher has categorized as mystery/thriller. When I read it, however, I see that it’s actually a thinly disguised family drama with a minor mystery element. Suffice it to say, that’s disappointing. And that’s the same sensation I had with this film.

Some folks, though, have drawn a comparison between this movie and Ginger Snaps, another Canadian lady werewolf movie. I thought the latter was also very okay, so if you liked or loved it, then you might like or love this one. I, on the other paw, am still searching.

Tell us what you think, either in these comments or on social media. Awoo.

featured image via 775 Media Corp and Voice Pictures

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Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf.

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