review by Diablo Joe
Thanks to the iconic “Ginger Snaps” and its sequels, Canada has a firm claim to the female-centric werewolf film. Director Amelia Moses and screenwriters Wendy Hill-Tout and Lowell (yes, the Canadian singer-songwriter) have put their version of this sub-genre forward in “Bloodthirsty.” But where “Ginger Snaps” used a completely fresh approach to bring an exciting new perspective to the werewolf (and but extension, coming of age) film, “Bloodthirsty falls prey to some familiar, and even tired, tropes.
Gray (Lauren Beatty) is a young, successful singer-songwriter embarking on recording her second album. Gray has chosen Vaughn Daniels (Greg Bryk) for her producer, a mysterious, reclusive talent with a bit of a dark past. Gray and her girlfriend Charlie (Katharine King So) retreat to Vaughn’s remote home studio, deep in the frozen woods. As she and Vaughn work on her music, Gray finds herself drawn deeper into his thrall and discovers a carnal, more primal, side of her psyche evolving. Is it all in Gray’s head, or is there a darker, more metaphysical force in play?
While “Ginger Snaps” might be the easy and obvious comparison, in truth, “Bloodthirsty” evokes another genre of horror monster—the vampire. The film makes much of Gray’s vegan, pro-animal nature and uses it as a meter to show her evolution and transformation. We’ve seen this before, in Tony Scott’s atmospheric classic “The Hunger.” Indeed, there are also echoes—although in reverse—of that film in Vaughn’s ability to draw Gray away from her girlfriend (this primordial blurring of sexual preferences being familiar to fans of Anne Rice and other authors as well). And Vaughn’s pining away for a lost love is as much a trope of the vampire genre as are caskets and stakes.
It’s difficult to see precisely what Moses and company wished to express with “Bloodthirsty.” If it were a more straightforward genre picture, it might have fared a bit better. Its LGBTQ aspects seem slighted as a result. Thematically they’re given the short shrift, which is a shame because it could have been interesting to see the conflict drawn more dramatically than it is here. The power of the supernatural over human nature could have been an interesting point of exploration. As such, it seems almost like a simple nod, a lost opportunity, and a shame. Gray’s mental health, and scenes with her psychiatrist (the late, great Michael Ironside), frame the film as if, perhaps, much of this could be in her head. Sadly, this too is not given enough weight to make it a viable thematic element.
One of the things that the film industry never quite portrays realistically is the music industry (the other being, strangely enough, the film industry itself). No one approaches the recording of a record album in this fashion. That Gray and Charlie would isolate themselves with a producer they had never met, let alone one once tried for murder (albeit acquitted), is patently ludicrous. The whole working relationship between Gray and Vaughn is such the stuff of misguided stereotype it’s incredible that it comes from a script co-written by a music professional.
What “Bloodthirsty” does have on its side are some nice, if late in the picture, werewolf transformation effects, as well as some lovely, atmospheric cinematography. But they’re too little and far too late in a film that treads so much familiar territory similar characters. “Bloodthirsty” lacks both bark and bite enough to make any sort of lasting impression.
This devil of a reviewer gives “Bloodthirsty” 2 out of 5 imps
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