Park Chan-wook :: South Korea :: 2008 :: 2h13
Sang-hyun (Song Kang-Ho) is a modern catholic priest. He is both rational and motivated by a selfless desire to help and to do the right thing. He volunteers for a risky medical experiment to find the cure for a deadly virus, in which he ends up receiving donor blood from an unknown source. He miraculously survives the virus, but the blood transfusion changed him, strengthened him even. Unfortunately, the flip-side of his new strength quickly becomes apparent, when he realises that to stay healthy, he needs to drink human blood. He has de facto become a vampire.
Sang-hyun survives his affliction without compromising his integrity, too much. But along with his craving for blood, came his lust for carnal pleasure too. From there it does not take long for his eyes to fall on the young Tae-Joo (Kim Ok-bin), married to a mildly retarded childhood friend of his. Treading with tenderness and care, he manages to seduce her. Tae-Joo, who was practically living as a family slave, reawakens as a femme fatale, challenging her lover well off the right path. The film swings from dark humour to sexy and from absurd to scary and all that in an aesthetically rich environment. Thrist is a great new twist on the vampire theme, even if it wonders off a little at times. It is funny to note that the marketing boys also had a tough time placing the film.
The French release poster has Kim Ok-bin’s character hanging upside-down from the Priest’s neck like a bat, exposing a lot of rosy hued skin in a darkness. It is a pure aesthetic, with a clear sensual feel, which has a “mainstream” look, as if the film plays down its foreign-ness and its originality to attract its audience. It is immediately visible that Sang-hyun is a priest, offering the intrigue. Any doubt you might have is taken away with the title “Ceci est mon sang” which has a religious ring, and the merit of mentioning “blood”. The film is actually more original and more horror laden than the poster would suggest.
Notice the difference with the Korean poster. It is as a scene from a faded film, where the female character’s near-panic is contrasted with the male character’s more controlled fear. The two characters are in full view, almost filling the entire poster, although the twist that Sang-hyun is a priest remains hidden. The two characters are white with a fear of something external, even though, on closer inspection, it is Sang-hyun himself who has blood on his lips! Although such an existential fear is not really the subject matter of the film, the poster does suggest fear and blood in old-school cinema. This is not only an accurate description, but also targets the audience who would most appreciate the film. If it is you, do not hesitate – Thirst is a great film.