{Movie Review} A Celebration of Fantastic Fest Makes Us All ‘Bloodthirsty’

The Public deserves to know


A Celebration of Fantastic Fest has been close to the same wonderful hodgepodge of weirdo genre stuff we have gotten use to watching at the South Lamar Alamo Draft House. Girl introduced us to a real indie singer playing a grungy starlight. This go around we get a starlet playing an indie singer in Bloodthirsty a new straight up horror movie from director Amelia Moses who also happens to be the director of Bleed With Me, another horror film that came out this year to critical acclaim. Bloodthirsty is one my favorites. It’s cold and callous and seems to really channel the supranatural elements of what makes a good artist. Also its gruesome as hell, the scariest film I saw at the festival, and probably has werewolves so HELL YEAH!

Grey (Lauren Beatty) is an indie singer/songwriter who after tremendous success with her first album is trying to prove the haters wrong by creating a sophomore album that is equally good. She also hallucinates occasionally that she is turning into an animal. As an artist is want to do. Clearly Bob Dylan went through his electric phase, but many forget his fang and claw phase as well. Grey meets Vaughn (Greg Bryk) a music producer who is both wildly successful but also put on trial for murdering the last young women he worked with. Grey points out that he was acquitted when her girlfriend Charlie (Katharine King So) seems a little concerned about working with producer. Despite those apprehensions the two of them head up to Vaughn’s estate. Grey to work on the album, and Charlie to paint as she is an artist as well. Once at the remote estate, in the middle of winter, things go bad real quick. The final act has a ton of spoilers so I won’t get into it here. Many you will see, perhaps a few you will not.

Lauren Beatty’s performance as Grey is quite impressive. She can flat out sing, or the movie does an incredible job of creating that illusion. The entire movie would not work if we didn’t believe that Grey could sing and write music. Beatty nails each scene with the bewildered confidence of a oracle who seems to be conjuring the spirit of the moment, but has no clue on why or how. I really liked the music. Everything falls into place behind it. Grey seems to be a bit like a darker version of Regina Spektor, often giving us dark, sad ballads with the same quirky edge to her voice. That being said, I am not a music guy. Can’t play anything. Can’t sing. My taste in music is suspect. So music aficionados YMMV. Beatty uses her body in scenes in the third act that play into the wonderful ambiguity of the film. What she does is not exactly animal like but it surely isn’t human.

Photo Courtesy of 775 Media Corp

Because of the subject matter some will compare this film to Raw (which I loved as well). This movie is much faster paced and a more traditional horror film. The better comparison would be Altered States where our protagonist evolves/devolves into a different being entirely. Bloodthirsty also plays in similar ways with states of reality. Our narrator is unreliable from the first scene of the movie where we see Grey talking with her psychologist (Michael Ironside).

The set design of the film is bonkers in a great way. Vaughn’s house is a maze of rooms, columns, and weird ass paintings. It feels large but the hallways and rooms feel small and narrow. If it possible to be both claustrophobic and agoraphobic Amelia Moses has discovered how. When the action turns to outside Moses deploys snow both as a device to keep our heroine at the house but also as a disguise. We are never really sure what the mounds of snow hide. It could be a broken down car. It could be a pile of bodies, but it looks bizarre and vaguely threatening.

Perhaps, Bloodthirsty is trying to make a commentary about the horror and sacrifices artists go through to create art. I understand that argument even if I can’t empathize. That is on me. I think artists that sell themselves and their art would better connect.

When the movie makes a hard turn halfway through I was ready to go wherever the movie took me. We get to know Grey as a person not as a pop star and in that way the movie avoids any of the pitfalls of making a movie about a famous person. She remains relatable. She makes decisions that feel for the most part like the easy and correct decisions. I wanted her to win. The final act of the film replete with a fun if predictable twist felt rushed and a bit of a let down. I think maybe I wanted MORE ambiguity. We don’t need things spelled out. I am ready to exist in a perpetual state of concern and dread. After all I have lived through most of 2020 so far.

A release date has not been announced but you definitely need to add Bloodthirsty to your watch list.

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