Pandora’s Box is an advisory column in which I watch a film based solely on its cover art, or box if you will, and determine whether or not it’s worth your time when you’re perusing the horror section of Instant Netflix. I do no research and watch no trailers, these films are completely and 100% unknown to me. You shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but I intend to do so with these movies. Will I uncover a glimmer of hope for my strange viewing habits or utter despair? We won’t know until I open…Pandora’s Box.
What Grabbed Me
A film that a lot of the staff hasn’t seen for a while and will hopefully one day soon see again is The Loved Ones, based on the premise of a high school girl who kidnaps boys she’s interested in and hosts a prom in her home while torturing them. A film called Bloody Reunion with a handcuffed kid strapped to a wooden chair conjured up some of the memories I had of The Loved Ones. Those were my thoughts about the art that grabbed me. The art of the box itself is just kinda cool and has an aura of dementedness to the type of violence that ensued before and after she was strapped to that chair. Plus it’s an Asian film, so you know there will be violence and blood out of every place it can come out of. At least I think/hope so.
I figured a second review of THIRST was best reserved for when the film expanded to several new cities. What a coincidence that 8/14/09 marks just such an occasion. Click here for a list of theaters hosting the badass Korean mamajama.
A film’s title can often be the greatest signifier of what the film is, perhaps even more so than its genre. A genre is just a categorical label telling you what kind of film the film resembles; but a good title should encompass everything the film actually represents. The genre, the attitude, the tone, and the themes are just some of the things that should be considered when deciding on a title. A well thought out title should be able to give you a helpful hint as to what the film is about, in what manner it will be presented to you, and most of all gain your interest.
One of the best ways to gain interest (mine at least) is through vague suggestion. You’re not quite sure what the title means. You know what the words mean, but don’t know what is so special about those particular words that they symbolize the feeling of the entire film.
In the case of THIRST it can be implied that the title generically represents the need for liquid. When you hear the synopsis that it’s a film about a vampire then you can gather that the title refers to the vampire’s need for blood. This, however, is the powerful thing about simple titles. Ironically, the fewer amount of words used in a title the more it tends to embody. Going by that rationale, and after viewing THIRST, the thickness of the film’s ideas and themes couldn’t have been spread over a multiple word title; it had to be compacted into one simple expression of desire, and necessity.
When I bought my wife’s engagement ring I was in over my head. I knew nothing about rings, I knew nothing about diamonds and I knew nothing about purchasing a ring with a diamond in it. She gave me a list of what to look for and I brought it to the first jewelry story I could find, handed it to the first person who approached me and said, “This is what I want”. What followed was a lot of talk about clarity and color and weight and the things rabbits eat and I remained just as clueless when I handed over my credit card as when I walked in the door. It’s not that I didn’t care about the details of the biggest purchase of my life, it’s just that the details were outside me. All I cared about was the milestone it represented.
THIRST is the kind of film I don’t want to say anything about. I just want to point it out, say, “Yep, this is the one”, and move on until more people have an opportunity to see it. It’s the first time all year long at a theater that I’ve felt at the mercy of a filmmaker. It’s the first time in ’09 I’ve felt unequivocally that what I’m watching is a film without peer, which is saying a lot considering how much in love I am with WATCHMEN, THE HURT LOCKER and MOON. THIRST writhes with a seductive, marvelous sense of discovery that I could only spoil by talking about. Which is giving me blue balls, because the more I think about it, the more I just want to talk about Chan-wook Park’s best film to date.
I won’t spoil anything beyond what the trailer makes obvious: Kang-ho Song plays a priest who receives a blood transfusion that turns him into a vampire. Done. That’s all you’re getting out of me plot wise. Anyone who dives beyond that is a dick. I will, however, talk about why I think it’s one of the best films of the year, despite having imperfections at its core. It’s a flawed masterpiece, not unlike the aforementioned diamond. It communicates a world to the naked eye, a world that looks perfect, but when the trained eye dives down to a molecular level structural inconsistencies appear. But who cares? It’s not about the guts, it’s about what it represents. This is the one, after all. You know it just looking at it. THIRST is a gem to behold, molecular level be damned.
The Internet, many things it may be, is not stingy, so I suppose the rest of you can go ahead and watch this trailer for Park Chan-wook’s vampire film THIRST, but in truth this post is dedicated to Randy the Mountain Man.
Randy, who you may know/disagree with as the music reviewer around these parts, is in love with three things: Post-apocalyptic fiction, Metal, Vampires. That’s it. Not even his wife and child find a spot on that list (in my mind, at least). But if there is one thing Randy hates even more than Lamb of God’s latest album, it’s got to be subtitles.
So listen here, Randy! You watch this trailer for THIRST right the fuck now and then you get over this leprous stigma you’ve given reading subtitles. If Kang-ho Song as a throat punching vampiric priest doesn’t cure your weird affliction, I don’t know what will.
THIRST hits theaters in the US July 31st, opening in NY/LA and expanding forth after.
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