Father Sang-hyeon is a priest with a bleeding heart. He cares for his patients and does what's in his power to do whatever they ask. EV, the Emmanuel Virus, covers its victims from the waist up with blisters, causes ulcers and hemorrhages in muscle tissue, and even causes victims to vomit blood and die from excessive bleeding if the virus spreads to the internal organs. Sang-hyeon volunteers at the Emmanuel Lab in hopes of finding a treatment for the disease, but winds up contracting the disease himself and dying in the process. The blood he receives during the transfusion, however, miraculously brings him back from the edge of death. While being the lone survivor of the ordeal, the story detailing Sang-hyeon's journey gets more and more spectacular. He comes to the realization that drinking blood makes the blisters that cover his body disappear and that he has superhuman abilities. The transfusion has made Sang-hyeon a vampire. He stays with a childhood friend while struggling with finding ways to quench his hunger for blood in addition to falling in love with Tae-Joo, his best friend's wife.
If anyone sits down with me and has a conversation with me about movies, it's only a matter of time before I reveal that Oldboy is quite possibly my favorite film of all time. So it should be no surprise that I'm willing to see anything the director, Chan-wook Park, or lead actors, Choi Min-sik and Ji-Tae Yu, are involved with. Mainly because of my love for Oldboy, but also because I'm rarely disappointed with anything they are a part of. So when I heard Chan-wook Park was tackling a vampire film, I was thrilled and even more thrilled that he managed to deliver another solid film to his already impressive filmography.
The cinematography is the film's shining feature. Park really knows his stuff when it comes to shooting memorable scenes from behind a camera. Every shot is filled with vibrant colors that leap off of the screen. Every frame of the film seems to tell a story all on its own. I hope there's a Blu-ray release of this film because it will look fantastic. It's rather intriguing to see which elements of the vampire mythology Park used for his vision. Sang-hyeon has to drink blood to survive and to stay looking flawless, has incredible strength, and is vulnerable to sunlight. He doesn't, however, have fangs and also has a reflection in the mirror.
Although I've never seen the film, I couldn't help but feel like this was Chan-wook Park's version of Twilight. The entire middle portion of the film is devoted to Sang-hyeon's and Tae-Joo's love for one another. It felt like the adult version of Twilight, really. There's a lot of blood, nudity, sex, and even a few obscenities thrown in for good measure. Maybe it's the Chan-Wook Park fanboy in me, but I honestly feel like I can guarantee that this is the better film of the two. The psychological aspect that I love about Park's previous films is in Thirst, as well. That's a major factor for me as any film that causes me to think or is unusual in any way winds up becoming a fan favorite. The soundtracks to Park's films always seem to fit its respective film like a glove. Thirst is no exception. While the soundtrack is a bit more subtle this time around, it fit the overall atmosphere of the film rather effortlessly.
The middle portion of the film did seem to drag on longer than everything else in the film. It's weird though as the scenes during that time are crucial to the storyline of the film and it's hard to imagine Thirst being the same film if any of those scenes were cut. Nevertheless, it is my one nitpick of the film.
Chan-wook Park bites into the vampire mythology with Thirst and puts his own dark, psychological twist on it. Park's films always seem to have a specific formula or include most of the following: great writing, beautiful cinematography, a solid cast, some sort of psychological twist that'll mess with your head, and a memorable ending. Thirst delivers on all fronts and will hopefully get more of the attention it deserved during its theatrical run on DVD (and eventually Blu-ray, hopefully).
(Written by Chris Sawin)