Rambling About Thirst (2009)

Nutshell Ramble

Park Chan-Wook continues his spectacular track record of making some of the most exceptional, thought provoking and original pieces of cinema.



Full Ramble

Thirst is a 2009 horror drama directed by Park Chan-Wook, written by Park Chan-Wook and Jeong Seo-Kyeong and stars Song Kang-Ho and Kim Ok-Bin. The film explores the life of a Catholic priest after he is subject to an experimental treatment for a new strain of deadly virus.

Park Chan-Wook is back at it again being a truly visionary director. The shot selection, the framing, the score, the direction, the production design, the heady concept, the characterization, the plot, the dark humor, the tongue-in-cheek violence, the genuine scares, the mood, the tone and almost every other aspect of film-making is as on point can be. Park Chan-Wook is not one to skimp on the smallest details and every single bit adds to the overall aesthetic of the film. There is a genuine reason why he is one of my favorite directors working today and this film reinforces my belief that he can do no wrong when directing Korean cinema.

The primary characters of the film are two engaging individuals and their stories are fascinating to watch. The film does have one character whose inner struggle is more compelling than the other but the film does not choose to focus on it to an extent to which one might expect it would. The film does, however, treat horror films with the respect and reverence they deserve. It takes its time to build its characters from the ground up and does not take the easy way out when it comes to adding traits to those characters. Every character’s complexity is palpable and that is the mark of true finesse. The film builds its world patiently as well and sets up rules which serve the film well to keep the story focused at all times. The scares are genuinely gut-churning and the film makes a conscious choice to keep the scares as a part of the overarching story and not cheapen itself with jump scares.

The film’s flaw is in its excess. Not the excess of violence or blood, even though there is a good amount of it, but with the excess in its run time. The film is extremely gripping when it is setting up its dominoes but loses a whole lot of grip when those dominoes start tumbling down. The third act takes a good while to kick into gear and those few moments of meandering may take the audience out of the film. The film does make up for it with one of the most creative final sequences this side of the 2000s. A whole 10-minute scene with less than 5 lines of dialogue and a whole lot of visual storytelling is a point to relish for any fan of smart direction.

Thirst is one of the most original takes on a genre of horror films which has been dragged through the mud for the longest time. It has some parallels to horror films of a bygone era and the choice to focus on character more than lazy scares elevates the film to a higher plane of cinema.




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