Bloodthirsty, the new film directed by Amelia Moses (Bleed with Me), and written by Wendy Hill Tout, and Lowell follows Grey Kessler (Lauren Beatty) is an indie singer looking for inspiration for her next album. Her music career is doing well, but she’s missing that edge that will catapult her to super stardom. It doesn’t help that she’s plagued by dreams of turning into a flesh eating monster, although she’s a vegetarian, and she takes medication to suppress these visions and feelings. Suddenly, Grey receives an offer from Vaughn Daniels (Greg Bryk), a well known music producer who offers to help with her next album. He has a reputation, though. It’s suspected he killed a woman but know one knows if it’s the truth or speculation. Ignoring all the red flags, Grey and her girlfriend Charlie (Katherine King So) travel to visit him anyway.
Right from the start, something is off about Vaughn. His home has a creepy, gothic air to it, and he is just an all around scary looking dude. Charlie already feels uneasy about the whole ordeal but Grey goes with it and is in the studio right away. Things don’t go as well as she though they would. She’s struggling to connect with the words of her own songs. Vaughn suggests she hasn’t come into her true self and that’s where the mental block comes from. The longer she stays at his place, the closer she is to figuring out what her “true self” means. Grey discovers that continuing to repress who she really is will be to the detriment of herself and everyone around her.
Bloodthirsty does well to build tension and mystery around exactly what Grey is turning into. Her transformation is gradual, well paced, and will leave you on the edge of your seat. When she does reach her final form, it’s visceral and violent. The make-up and special effects give Grey a menacing look and isn’t concerned with making her look pretty, or sexy. She is a monster and she absolutely looks like one.
The unforgivable issues are the weak character development for every character on screen. As an adoptee Grey doesn’t know much about her past. However, as the story progresses the viewer learns more about the character and her fascinating history, but the film doesn’t dig deeper into exploring that. She isn’t given much time to react to things, they just sort of happen to her, leaving her with no control over her transformation. When she finally becomes the Monster, the film is rushed to conclusion, as Bloodthirsty becomes obsessed with showing the audience how powerful she is and how much damage she can do, without telling us much about who she is.
It also doesn’t bode well with how disposable Charlie is treated. Her character is the smartest one in the film and no one listens to her. I get the character’s purpose is to be the voice of reason, but she becomes a punching bag for Vaughn and Grey’s frustrations. If we’re just talking optics it looks very bad in terms of inclusion and what it looks like on screen.
I do applaud the film for trying to add a little spice to a genre that doesn’t get enough love. Also, I think the attempts at queer representative are noble, and Lauren Beatty’s is a good and likable actress. The film takes itself so seriously there are very little moments of levity. There isn’t even anything wrong with the overall story, it’s just the characters are incomplete. Maybe if the movie was longer, it could have fleshed out character details a little more. Despite that, there is still lots to like here.
Bloodthirsty is out now and available on demand from Brainstorm Media.