Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thirst Is A Better Vampire Film Than Let The Right One In

It seemed that shortly after seeing it, a very vocal majority of critics, reviewers, bloggers and podcasters jumped on the "LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008) is the best vampire and/or horror film in years/decades/history" bandwagon.

Not only did I disagree, I argued that it's not even a horror film, and not much of a vampire film either. In response, I was accused of being attention deficit; of feeling that it was "too good" to be a horror film; and of having no idea what I was talking about.

Ironically, all of these accusations came from people who don't know me, and thus had no idea what they were talking about. That aside, it's even easier to dismiss these accusations than it was for these people to dismiss me and my opinions.

People who are no more qualified to recognise ADHD than they are any other medical condition should stop embarrassing themselves with these pop-psychology diagnoses. They should really re-think themselves before accusing people they don't even know of having no idea what they're talking about.

As for being "too good" to be a horror film, I don't even know how this makes sense, as I feel genre is identified by tropes, not quality (or a lack thereof). For example, Park Chan-Wook's THIRST (2009) is a film about a vampire - unlike LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is about a boy who gets picked on at school and has a strained relationship with his divorced parents. He meets a girl who encourages him stand up to the bullies at school - before she runs away from home (leaving him behind). Ultimately, she returns to help him fight off the bullies, and they run away together. There's also a sub-plot about the girl being a vampire, but that's not what the film is about - it's merely a complication in this boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl story.

In other words, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN isn't "too good" to be a horror movie, it's a coming-of-age/pre-teen romance that happens to have a vampire in it, and I don't feel this makes it a horror movie any more than I feel this book is a horror anthology:

In contrast, THIRST is a film about a priest who becomes a vampire, and how his newfound urges - due to his vampirism - cause him to do things that go against every belief he's held sacred during his entire life. Vampirism is not incidental to the film's primary throughline, nor is it used as window dressing. THIRST has all of the atmosphere, suspense, self-sacrifice, betrayal, pathos and - most importantly - horror that one expects from the best the genre has to offer.

Quite simply, THIRST is easily the best vampire film in at least a decade - and probably longer.