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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bakjwi (aka Thirst) (2009)

A Catholic priest (Kang Ho Song) volunteers to be a guinea pig in a vaccine program for a fatal virus that backfires when he becomes infected. After receiving a blood transfusion however he survives, the only one of the 500 volunteers to do so. The downside is that the blood from this transfusion is infected with something else which causes him to crave human blood ... and so begins a descent into Hell and he's not going alone! The director Chan Wook Park (STOKER) based his horror screenplay very loosely on Emile Zola's THERESE RAQUIN. He's not interested so much in doing yet another film version of the Zola novel as much as using it as a jumping off point to a complex horror film where strong emotions and forbidden yearnings overcome whatever remnants of human behavior one has. The film is almost a horror comedy as Park infuses the film with comic touches that contrast with the gross factor (it could easily have been called THERE WILL BE BLOOD if that title wasn't already taken). Park's pacing is unhurried and deliberate which makes the film's first hour slow going but it pays off in the film's last hour which is a tour de force. Chun Hoon Chung's lensing is superb as it visually chronicles the literal disintegration of its four protagonists. With Ok Bin Kim (in the film's best performance), Hae Suk Kim and Ha Kyun Shin.

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