Amelia Moses’ Bloodthirsty is a film that landed on my radar in the fall of 2020 and quickly became something of an obsession. I first saw it as a part of the Fantastic Fest virtual event that took place during the first year of the pandemic. In a year that was full of misery, frustration, and the unknown, getting to see a film like this as part of a festival event was a breath of much-needed fresh air. A kickass werewolf movie with a killer soundtrack is a movie that we should be celebrating every single day.

Grey (Lauren Beatty) is a successful indie singer who is beginning work on her new album. The pressure to create a follow-up as successful as her first endeavor is mounting, and she agrees to partner with a successful producer to help her fine-tune the work. Vaughn Daniels (Greg Byrk) has a sordid history, but he really seems to get Grey’s music and the two quickly connect and form a partnership. Grey and her girlfriend, Charlie (Katharine King So), accept an invitation to join Vaughn at his isolated house so that Grey and Vaughn can work on the album uninterrupted.

The work is productive. Grey and Vaughn quickly hit their stride and begin to flesh out some of the unfinished melodies and lyrics that she has been working on. They fine-tune some of her more completed pieces, and work to really make the beauty of her art shine.

But there is a darkness to their partnership as well. Grey has always suffered from strange hallucinations. She experiences horrifying dreams of devouring live animals and waking visions where she sees bloody and monstrous changes happening to her own body. These begin to intensify as she spends more time with Vaughn. A hidden part of her begins to come out. A part that terrifies her. It is fierce, vicious, and uncontrollable, and under Vaughn’s steady hand, it is about to be released.

At the center of the story is a struggle for power. Vaughn is trying to sculpt Grey into what he sees as her full potential—both the artistic power and the primal, animalistic power lying within her. Grey struggles with this power, but over the course of the story ultimately chooses to take hold of it and own it. Yes, in some ways this sees her becoming a monster. But in the end, she does so on her own terms.

The story is great, and it is only enhanced by the soundtrack. Much of this film’s soul comes from the amazing music by co-writer Lowell. An indie musician in her own right, she contributed new and existing songs to the film as a part of Grey’s work. They are fantastic songs on their own, but the way they are woven in and used here is breathtaking. They serve not as a literal illustration to the events of the plot, but more of a beautiful complement, further bringing the audience into Grey’s experience and the things that she is feeling.

A beautiful example of this comes midway through the story, when Grey is sitting at a piano, working on a new piece, and Charlie comes into the room. Charlie asks if Grey will play her the unfinished piece. Grey does.

God is a fascist

And he holds all the cards

He brought us together

Just to keep us apart


And there's nothing more tragic

Than this thing that we are

I'm a hopeless romantic

Who didn't get the part

It’s a beautiful song that pulls at some of the changes she has been undergoing under Vaughn’s influence. Grey is beginning to pull away from Charlie. They both love each other immensely, but in that moment, we (as well as the characters) are aware of the shifting dynamics in their relationship. In that moment their love, while strong, feels inevitably doomed.

Moments like that are part of what make this film so powerful. The music serves as another window into the souls of these characters. It’s haunting and provocative and at times even heart-breaking (plus, it’s just really, really good music).

Bloodthirsty is a fantastic film that came into my life at exactly the right moment and helped to connect me with some of the things that I love the most about indie cinema—the way the right story can come together through amazing direction, beautiful performances, a killer soundtrack, and some wicked werewolf action. In a year when this need really wasn’t being met in the way that I needed, this story provided a welcome oasis. And it is one that I am always excited to revisit.


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