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Thirst (2009) Movie Review

Thirst 2009 Movie Review
Review by Colleen Wanglund

THIRST (2009) is a Korean horror film from director Chan-wook Park. The screenplay, written by Chan-wook Park and Seo-Gyeong Jeong is inspired by the novel Therese Raquin by Emile Zola. It tells the story of a Catholic priest, Father Sang-hyeon, who volunteers for a high-risk experiment testing a vaccine for a deadly hemorrhagic virus, the Emmanuel Virus, which causes death through massive blood loss (like Ebola). The priest ultimately becomes infected and near death, is given a blood transfusion in an attempt to save him. He is the only survivor out of fifty taking part in the experiments, thus becoming almost saint-like to the faithful seeking him out for prayers of healing.

Six months after his miraculous recovery, Father Sang-hyeon ends up living with the family of a childhood friend that he seems to have cured of cancer. Soon he begins experiencing strange sensations, and the virus seems to have returned....until he drinks the blood of a comatose patient in the hospital in which he volunteers. The priest, it seems, has become a vampire.

While living with this family Sang-hyeon embarks on a dangerous relationship with his friend’s young wife Tae-ju. She is not a happy woman, being abused by her mother-in-law. Tae-ju discovers what Sang-hyeon is and wants to become a vampire to escape the miserable life she finds herself in. Sang-hyeon, in love, relents and gives Tae-ju what she wants. It’s a complete disaster.

This is NOT your typical vampire story. We see no fangs, no physical transformations, but he does have super-human abilities, such as instant healing when wounded and increased physical strength. He even continues to be a priest, drinking small amounts only when necessary. Ultimately he falls in love with the wife of the man whose cancer he cured, and she seems to return those feelings. However, with a Park movie, nothing is ever really as it seems. THIRST begins with a rather somber tone but that changes when Sang-hyeon and Tae-ju ultimately consummate their relationship. Stylistically, the film is very sleek with a refreshing departure from what we usually see in the vampire sub-genre of horror movies.

This is Park's first real horror movie and I thought it was great. I’ve actually been waiting for a full length horror film ever since I saw Park’s short “CUT” in the movie THREE…EXTREMES (2004). I am a huge fan of his other films, especially the VENGEANCE trilogy. It was a little longer than I expected (I was up until 4 am watching it) but worth the late night. I liked the priest, and felt bad for him when it seemed as though he was being used by everyone around him. The end was amazing and totally unexpected. The only problem I have with it is that there is really no explanation as to how he became a vampire, except for a hint at the transfusion....but where did they get the blood from in the first place? I recommend this movie to any horror fan, especially if you like something a little bit different.

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