The notion of hunger is vast and can be applied to an array of different desires. For the stereotypical starving artist, hunger usually comes in the form of fame, success, and basic needs. Writer/director Amelia Moses creatively applies the concept of hunger and desire to the werewolf sub-genre with her latest film, Bloodthirsty.
Grey (Lauren Beatty) is a successful indie pop star who is currently working on her second album. The pressure of putting out a sophomore album even more triumphant than her first begins to eat her up inside. She experiences disturbing hallucinations where parts of her body morph into animalistic features and nightmares that seep into her daily reality. Writing music is a cathartic process for Grey and her supportive girlfriend Charlie (Katharine King So) helps her through creative struggles by reminding her to take care of herself. An opportunity arises when an infamous producer named Vaughn Daniels (Greg Bryk) invites Grey and Charlie to his isolated mansion in order to complete her album. Apprehensive about his tainted past concerning an accused murder charge, Grey still accepts his invitation in hopes to make her best album yet.
The film’s music is the bloodline of Grey’s journey to self-discovery and success. Bloodthirsty’s screenwriter, Wendy Hill-Tout, was inspired to write the film by her daughter Lowell, an LGBTQIA pop artist who co-wrote original songs for the film. The musical style is soft and ethereal but contains raw lyrics that evolve over the course of Grey’s stay. In addition to the shift in music, Grey’s hallucinations begin to spiral out of control after she stops taking her medication at the request of Vaughn. Grey’s inward transformation is a parallel to her physical transformation as well. This approach contributes to the primal nature of her music and journey towards self-discovery. However, Grey’s shift in behavior begins to put a strain on her relationship with Charlie, and she is pushed to decide between her music and her partner. Grey’s hunger for success begins to supersede her relationship concerns with Charlie, whereas Charlie has a need for emotional connection and growth within their romantic relationship. Beatty and So have a sweetly infectious chemistry on-screen as Grey and Charlie. They are a couple to root for, and it is refreshing to see an LGBTQIA couple in the forefront of a werewolf narrative since it is a sub-genre primarily ruled by straight males.
The sound design in the film is both dreamy and diabolic. Grey’s angelic voice is perfectly juxtaposed with her animalistic evolution. Aside from the film’s music, the foley work pleasantly assaults the senses. Grey is a vegetarian and her avoidance towards meat makes her hallucinations of killing and eating small animals that much more visually and audibly revolting. The foley and sound effects used during these scenes are extremely effective while the special effects will satisfy every gorehound. The film shies away from CGI and instead opts for practical special effects with plenty of bloodshed. Despite a modest budget, the transformation scenes are effective and menacing in their own right. Grey’s emotional turmoil heightens her various physical transformations throughout the film and provides a more sentimental approach to the werewolf sub-genre.
The pacing of the film wavers at times and Vaughn’s character falls flat despite the storyline’s attempt to make him menacing and intimidating. But overall, Bloodthirsty is a satisfying and refreshing entry into the werewolf cinematic lore. The film successfully approaches themes of hunger through carnal pleasures, fame, and self-discovery. Moses approaches the concept of transformation in a multi-faceted manner and delivers a captivating film worth hunting down.
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