Bloodthirsty (2021) is a Bone-Dry Werewolf Metaphor for Fame
First Non-Festival Release: April 23, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Amelia Moses
Writer: Wendy Hill-Tout, Lowell
Runtime: 84 Minutes
Starring: Lauren Beatty, Greg Bryk, Katharine King So
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Grey (Lauren Beatty) is struggling to find her identity when she accepts a deal from a reclusive yet formidable music producer (Greg Bryk) to work on her next album together. Grateful for the opportunity to work with someone so accomplished, Grey overlooks his seedy past and brings her girlfriend (Katharine King So) to his remote estate to collaborate. Once there, she finds herself falling deeper within her music as something else is awakened inside her that scares her. Charlie wants Grey to leave but something keeps Grey there. This special something pushes Grey down into a spiral as she succumbs to the primal urges and instincts that she has been repressing for so long.
A plodding werewolf melodrama, Bloodthirsty lacks the bite necessary to pierce the music industry in its intended manner.
There’s something missing in this film, and I am not able to figure out what that is exactly. I’m not satisfied with the explanations the film provides. There are an awful lot of coincidences and suspensions of disbelief to take it seriously. This spans both longer plot progressions and in-the-moment actions. It’s staggering how many times a character is in the right (or wrong) place at the right time. Even when you take into consideration planning and werewolf sensibilities like heightened senses, it doesn’t add up.
Grey goes through the most-bare bones character arc and for what? She is such a one-note protagonist who wanders through the film barely making an impact on the story. Her desires morph depending on what is necessary for the upcoming scene. It’s certainly another aspect of convenience that makes for a forgettable watch. Thankfully, the acting of Beatty and Bryk make up for the stilted dialogue and stagnant plot.
I get that it’s just a movie and that it's straining against its low budget, but the blandness of the music bothers me too. You’re telling me that Grey’s breakthrough songs are just one soft piano ballad after the other? It’s lazy and uninteresting. Not to mention that the music itself is sleep inducing. Lowell has a lovely voice and the songs themselves have interesting and powerful lyrics, but they all sound the same in the context of the film. In a vacuum they are great but presented in the way that Bloodthirsty does, it has minimal impact in the end.
Underneath it all, there is something to be said about the music industry in here, but it doesn’t land. It seems to be tied to female sexuality and empowerment. It’s repeatedly emphasized that Grey and Charlie are together, and that Vaughn threatens that. Their same sex relationship is said to be at odds with her career even when the main cause of strain is her over-the-top and touchy-feely producer. The ending doesn’t match the journey because none of this ever gets addressed in a satisfying manner.
It’s sad that Bloodthirsty turns out the way it does because there is a solid foundation to what could be an excellent entry into the werewolf subgenre. It’s one that could use some more greats if we are being honest. The effects are serviceable, the visuals are dreary, and there’s an attempt at making something beyond surface level in terms of themes. Unfortunately, there just isn’t much punch here in this otherwise dry and empty film.
There’s nothing overtly wrong about Bloodthirsty per se, but there isn’t much right about it either. From so-so acting to mediocre storytelling, it rarely satisfies any need. The cinephile will be disappointed by its genericness and a casual filmgoer will be disappointed by its slow pacing and unfocused storyline. While it does seem to be a hit with critics, I can’t recommend Bloodthirsty to anyone other than those who are looking for deeper cuts of recent horror releases. It’s fine but there are certainly far better films to be watching right now than this full moon clunker.
Overall Score? 5/10