Bloodthirsty Review- A Horrific Feminist Take On Starving Artists
Bloodthirsty is a richly nuanced tale of hunger and identity. Sometimes finding yourself means leaving others behind.
Amelia Moses’ second festival darling in a year is a visceral experience for the eyes and the ears. Her unique style makes the most of subtle performances and gorgeous settings with a tiny budget. Her second full-length film, Bloodthirsty, capitalizes on incredibly complex performances and nuanced themes of self-identity in a world that wants to eat you alive. That is if you don’t do it first.
Grey, played by Lauren Beatty, who Moses worked with in Bleed With Me, is a rising indy popstar searching for her next album. As the pressure mounts to write an album even better than her first, she begins to have violent dreams about a savageness she hopes she doesn’t possess. It could easily be chalked up to anxiety over her career, but Grey feels like something is trying to break free. It could be a transformation she isn’t ready for or an incredible piece of music waiting to be released. When a chance to work with reclusive but brilliant music producer Vaughn takes her and girlfriend Charlie(Katharine King So) to his isolated estate, she finds more than her voice in the wild landscape and stark halls. Is she ready for what Vaughn unlocks in her?
The more time she spends with the enigmatic producer, the more she feels she finds herself and the music. She may be losing pieces of herself in the process, though. The highly symbolic Bloodthirsty is about unleashing your inner monster. It is about learning to sacrifice for your art and allow yourself to feel the kind of unbridled primal emotions that great art often stems from.
Moses’s film presents as a wolf in sheep’s clothing tale. Grey may or may not be a werewolf, but talented Vaughn has a questionable past. The question of his wife’s death still lingers over the man despite being cleared of her murder. Is he a misunderstood musical genius or a killer looking for prey?
Bloodthirsty is a different type of werewolf movie. It is one more concerned with the why’s than the hows. As such, Grey’s motivations and frustrations are more powerful than any physical transformation. That being said, the transformation scene in Bloodthirsty is so perfectly rendered it is sure to set the standard for modern-day werewolf films. Taking a more subtle approach, Grey’s full wolf self has the ferocity of the infamous beast while maintaining all of her humanity. It allows Beatty’s dynamic performance to come through the prosthetics and makeup.
Moses gets the most out of Lauren Beatty’s fierce fragility. She has an eye for framing her actors in interesting shots and angles that convey subtext. Beatty knows how to broadcast raw emotion with a single agonized look or withering glance. Grey is a searing ball of confusion, fear, and need. Eccentric music producer Vaughn played by Greg Byrk, is the perfect ambiguous villain mixing hedonism and obsession with just the right touch of sympathy.
Bloodthirsty is also an indictment of the music industry. It is an industry known for chewing up talent and stripping it to the bone before tossing it aside for the next tender morsel. Likely Canadian singer-songwriter Lowell who co-wrote the script with Wendy Tout-Hill, pulled from her own experience in the often cutthroat world. The soundtrack is an instrumental part of the film. It is so achingly filled with desires and regrets you can’t help but examine your own life. The haunting quality of Lowell’s music and Beatty’s heartbreaking delivery sells the progression of Grey as the victim and later pursuer.
Moses has a talent for finding and directing quietly intense films, especially feminist ones. There is strength in Grey’s dulcet tones and power in the quiet desperation for acceptance. The softly lilting voice of Grey mixes neatly with her later more animalistic behaviors in a satisfying if grotesque way.
Bloodthirsty is about so much more than werewolves. It is a fable about what we are willing to do for art, fame, and success. Moses’ film is a unique spin on a well-worn trope. Although primarily a creature film, the unforgettable music, and smartly styled setting let the actors’ talents fill the screen. It is available to stream in select theaters and on-demand everywhere on April 23rd. You can also get the four-song collection from Lowell on the same day.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.