Movie Review: Thirst (2009)

Posted: May 14, 2016 in Drama, horror


A Korean Catholic priest named Sang Hyeon  (Kang Ho Song) goes to a monastery to become a test subject to develop a vaccine for the deadly Emmanuel Virus.  The blood transplants Sang Hyeon receives work to cure the virus, but now he must drink human blood in order for the virus to stay latent in his body. Sang Hyeon can’t go out in the daytime, and must continue to drink human blood in order to stave off the virus. He moves in with a childhood friend, Kang woo (Ha Kyun Shin) his mother, Mrs. Ra (Hae Suk Kim) and Kang-woo’s wife, Tae Ju. (Ok-Bin Kim) The blood transplant that saved Sang Hyeon form the virus also has awakened desires for Tae Ju that make him question his vows of celibacy. To complicate matters Tae Ju says she’s being beaten by Kang-Woo.  How does the priest get human blood without killing anyone?  Does he suppress his desires for Kae Ju?

I like Asian horror, A Tale of Two Sisters is a great example of Korean horror. Thirst is not scary in the least I don’t know what Thirst is trying to be, it tries to be a morality play, but this movie has only a superficial view of religion.  The priest doesn’t even wear a cross.  Why would a priest move in with his friend and wife in the first place? It makes no sense.  Then the priest tries to be the hero to the wife’s damsel in distress.  The twist in the film wrecks that angle, then it tries to be some kind of farce, or black comedy, then psychological horror, and finally a bloody slasher movie.  Forget about morality how ethical is it to contemplate sleeping with someone while carrying a communicable disease?  Has anyone ever heard of AIDS in South Korea?  I guess not. The writers (one of the writers is also the director) doesn’t stick with one storyline long enough to make any of them successful.  They are trying to say something deep about human nature I guess, but the message is garbled by the mixing of so many genres. The whole movie should have been about a righteous man, fighting temptation, in the form of the woman, obviously, but also he should have been tempted by the idea of immortal life, which is a very Christian idea indeed. But the movie went in another direction, and not one I cared for.

The acting is ok.  Kang Ho Song is kind of a bland hero, or is that anti-hero? He didn’t seem very emotional about anything, about his vows of celibacy, Song’s performance was very matter of fact.  There should have been more of a struggle between his moral calling and his animal yearnings. Ok-Bin Kim on the other hand, gives a complex performance as a woman suffering at the hands of an abuser, but there’s more to her story than meets the eye. Ha Kyun Shin is around for mostly comic relief, and as a bad guy.

The director, Chan Woo Park, director of Oldboy, seems too interested in making an arthouse movie and not a serious horror films, there are all these shots from different angles, gratuitous nudity, and blood used like red paint, against a blinding white palette.  And then there are the Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon Wiuxia visuals, visual overload abounds. The visuals actually take away from the movie. I have not seen Oldboy, but I have seen cut and the violence in that short, is reminiscent of the violence in this movie.  Wong Kar Wai is the best Asian arthouse director I’ve seen, and romance lends itself much more to an arthouse backdrop than horror, so Chan Woo Park is still far behind in my book.

Warning:  There is gratuitous violence and nudity, this is a well-earned R rating.

Thirst. Vamping  about religion.


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