Thirst (2009, Chan-wook Park)

Not a vampire thriller with comic parts, but an all-out comedy. I used to think Park was someone to take seriously with his vengeance trilogy, but after this and I’m a Cyborg But That’s Okay, I’m not sure he was ever serious. Maybe it has always been dark humor, and he never had anything to say about revenge – there’s nothing I can remember, anyway, and surely nothing to match K. Kurosawa’s Eyes of the Spider. Complaints aside, this was entertaining as hell and the sparse crowd was laughing and yelling in horror and delight.

Great to see the star of The Host again on the big screen, and just as good (if not better) was his 20-year-old costar Ok-vin Kim. Anyway, a priest volunteers to be injected with a painfully fatal disease in the name of science, but during a blood transfusion on his deathbed, accidentally gets turned into a vampire. Still a priest, he’s trying to be the most humane vampire he can be, killing nobody and drinking blood from coma patients through their feed tubes. But then he falls for wild young Tae-joo and leaves the priesthood to have an affair with her behind the back of her husband (Ha-kyun Shin, father of the dead girl in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance). She’s messed up and amoral from the start, and our man begins to fall – killing his blind friend and the girl’s husband so they can be together. But then she becomes a vampire and starts killing everyone in sight, so he drives them out to the middle of nowhere and waits for the sun to come up…

No messing around with stakes through the heart, garlic or other vampire business – we never even see the original vampires who infected these two. Their super strength adds to the comic-book atmosphere, jumping across rooftops, denting lampposts, tearing apart a car with his bare hands.

This died at the theater with hardly anyone hearing about it. Weird that foreign action/horror movies don’t seem to stand a chance in theaters here, while talky family dramas do fine. I’d think The Good, The Bad & The Weird, Sukiyaki Western Django and this could pull a bigger crowd than Summer Hours and Revanche, but I guess that’s why I’m not paid to book theaters.

Steve McQueen’s Hunger was playing last week, and I meant to catch it so I could watch Hunger and Thirst back-to-back, but sadly reality prevailed over gimmickry and I missed it.

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