One of my favorite tropes in horror is whenever the creative process and monstrous transformations intersect, which is why Amelia Moses’ Bloodthirsty ended up being right up my proverbial alley. Anchored by a mesmerizing lead performance from Lauren Beatty, and featuring a soundtrack that just kills it from start to finish, Bloodthirsty pulls no punches when it comes to pulling back the layers on just how all-consuming any artistic endeavor can be for creators, but especially those who also happen to be struggling with the fact that they are transforming into a werewolf and there’s not much they can do about it.
In Bloodthirsty, Beatty plays an indie singer named Grey, who is struggling to put together her second album and also happens to be grappling with some vivid nightmares involving her having very lycanthropic eyes, some teeth trauma, and random appearances of blood. She’s been seeing a psychiatrist (played by Michael Ironside) to help her cope, but it seems like Grey’s meds can only contain her true nature for so long. Realizing her career is in jeopardy unless she can get her music back on track, Grey decides to collaborate with an eccentric producer named Vaughn Daniels (Greg Bryk), who may or may not have been involved with the death of one of his protégés decades prior. As Grey and her girlfriend Charlie (Katharine King So, who is also fantastic here) arrive at Vaughn’s secluded home out in the woods, the songstress finds inspiration almost immediately, and embarks on an immersive collaborative journey with Vaughn that pushes her to the brink in a variety of ways.
We’ve definitely seen stories like Bloodthirsty before (last year’s Bliss is one that immediately comes to mind), but I think between Moses’ approach in handling the film’s script by Wendy Hill-Tout and Canadian musician Lowell (who also wrote the music for the film) and the metamorphic performance from Beatty, elevates this story in new and exciting ways. Once we enter Vaughn’s domain in Bloodthirsty, it’s almost like Grey finds herself intoxicated by this new environment, and I think the production design and locale do a lot to immerse viewers in the same manner as the film’s protagonist. We’ve also seen the concept of vegan werewolves craving red meat, too (The Howling), but there’s one scene in particular in Bloodthirsty where it feels like the movie is very much living up to its name, and it made me gag a little bit while watching it.
I also must commend Lowell’s songwriting abilities here for Bloodthirsty; the titular song is the kind of haunting melody that feels like it was written by someone who has ripped their heart out of their chest and is delivering it up on a silver platter to their former lover. All the songs here are great, though, and I hope that we’ll one day see an official soundtrack come out in support of the movie.
When you’re working with a limited budget, it can be hugely challenging to take on a werewolf-themed story because there is so much cost involved when creating these beastly characters, so I really applaud Moses for finding some clever tricks in handling the cost-prohibitive aspects of this story. I also really dig the design of Grey’s werewolf, and I think it does a great job of adhering to what we expect from a lycan character, but also stands out as well.
As mentioned, Bloodthirsty treads some well-worn narrative territory, but when you have an immense amount of talent, both in front of and behind the camera like there is here, that come together to try and put their own spin on these familiar tropes, the results are a wholly exhilarating and horrifying experience that rips apart your very soul. In a very short amount of time, Moses has quickly established herself as a filmmaking force to be reckoned with, and between Bleed With Me (which Beatty also co-stars in) and Bloodthirsty, she’s made a huge fan out of me.
Movie Score: 4/5
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