I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Features Editor
We’ve all seen the results of a genre film when it’s free to buck wild and toss everything in the kitchen sink. Very seldom does it work out and leave a lasting impression. I don’t know if BLOODTHIRSTY – a horror film that explores the creative process through lycanthropy – will leave a lasting impression, but it sure drips with disgusting fun.
Directed with pizzazz by Amelia Moses (BLEED WITH ME), BLOODTHIRSTY centers on an indie singer named Grey Kessler (a very good Lauren Beatty). Her first album was a smashing success, and the public is hungry for her sophomore release. The pressure is a lot to handle, and she begins to have terrifying visions that she’s some sort of beast, feasting on flesh. This is when Grey receives an invitation to record in the woods, away from all the public noise, by notorious music producer Vaughn Daniels (Jason Clarke-lookalike Greg Bryk).
Despite a dark cloud hanging over Vaughn’s career (he was accused of murdering another famous singer), Grey decides to travel to his remote mansion with her painter girlfriend, Charlie (Katharine King So). Together, they begin to peel back the layers of themselves through their art. However, Grey’s vision worsens as Vaughn asks her to dig deeper within herself. The truth of who she is begins to reveal itself slowly.
Horror fans will be able to spot familiar story beats, such as RAW, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, and maybe even a taste of that odd relationship between Rey and Luke in THE LAST JEDI. That’s not to say you will spot Bryk drinking green milk from a weird-looking creature, but his character eccentrically pushes Grey. There’s a particular darkness and pain within Vaughn that’s not far off from Mark Hamill’s performance in THE LAST JEDI (minus all the Rian Johnson witticisms).
Even though BLOODTHIRSTY has all these comparisons to other works, that doesn’t stop it from being its own fun and creative beast. Rather than dip into the relationship between sisters like in RAW, we delve into two different relationships. One between romantic couple Grey and Charlie, and another between a musician and her producer. Both relationships are put to the test as Grey’s creativity begins to take the shape of something more primal. Everything that she’s been so scared to explore is all that she needs to speak her truth through music. It’s a nice touch that leads to catchy tunes.
The LET THE RIGHT ONE IN nod could be picked out from the bond between Vaughn and his housekeeper Vera. Tip-toeing around the secrets of it, there’s a history there that could warrant its own movie. It’s never profoundly explored, but enough ingredients are dangled out there for the audience to become curious.
However, we’re not talking about vampires. This is a story about lycanthropes, but not a wholly uncaged and ultra-violent type. That’s what makes BLOODTHIRSTY such a treat: it doesn’t try to go too big. Whether it’s budget reasons or creative choice, it raises the stakes of what’s to come. Moses brings us into the narrative and uses dialogue and frightening imagery to maintain tension. While the dialogue isn’t as deep as it thinks it is, using obvious metaphors to illustrate its building madness, it doesn’t keep the movie from a solid genre film.
BLOODTHIRSTY plays out slowly, offering good characters to sink your teeth into before unleashing hell by the end. There’s beauty in the film’s horror and how it unravels.
BLOODTHIRSTY is now available on Digital and On-Demand.