As humans we’re expected to behave a certain way, which means it’s very interesting when storytellers explore what happens when we unleash our primal side. These animalistic qualities and primal desires are seen throughout fiction, from vampire films to cannibals, there’s plenty to be explored when it comes to the fragility of the human psyche. In Bloodthirsty, we explore the story of one woman’s terrifying journey into self-discovery and what it means for those around her.
The film opens with our protagonist Grey (Lauren Beatty), who recounts a vivid nightmare to her psychiatrist, explaining she’s been having graphic, disturbing dreams which have impacted her ability to focus on work. Grey is a musician, and really wants her second album to be a success, but her concerns aren’t taken seriously. Instead, she’s told her problems are ‘all in her head’ and is given medication to try and stop the nightmares. She soon realises that she’ll have to try another approach to help her knuckle down and focus on her music.
When she gets an invite to work with music producer Vaughn (Greg Bryk), she takes the opportunity and goes to stay in his cabin along with her girlfriend Charlie (Katharine King So), who is more apprehensive about the idea. Vaughn’s a shady character, and it’s revealed he was tried for murder, causing Charlie to be concerned about his intentions.
At first, Grey sees improvements since staying with Vaughn, as he’s impressed by some of her new material and lyrics, which are sang beautifully by Lauren Beatty. The songs are genuinely catchy, and reflect the current situation in which this struggling musician has found herself without coming across as obnoxious. But it’s not long before things start to get strange, even stranger than what Grey has already been experiencing.
Bloodthirsty is a slow burn, as things gradually begin to go downhill. Grey finds herself gradually giving in to her urges, starting with consuming meat despite being a vegan. In a similar vein to Julia Ducournau’s Raw, we see a woman who was once repulsed at the thought of harming an animal descend into a ravenous being with a hunger for meat. All the while Vaughn seems to be encouraging her out of character behaviours, but what are his intentions?
While there are similarities to Raw, the film does enough to stand out without simply being a copycat piece. Performance wise, it was really refreshing to see an honest, believable lesbian relationship, as there are many scenes between the two women which give us insight into their dynamic and feelings about the world. Amid the visceral, stomach turning gory moments, you have these gentle and intimate ones which aid the character development. Despite the low budget, both tones are delivered very well and are balanced throughout.
There’s also some ambiguity around what’s really going on, and what’s in Grey’s head, providing a deeply personal and unique take into a descent into madness. While trying to achieve perfection in her music career, her sanity is deteriorating rapidly. Amid all this, Grey learns some shocking truths about her own past, adding to this twisted tale of self-discovery.
It is also refreshing to see another strong female centric entry into the horror genre, as Bloodthirsty is directed by Amelia Moses and written by Wendy Hill-Tout and Canadian singer Lowell, who also provides additional music for the film. Together they’ve created a compelling story which focuses on mental health, identity, careers, and explores all of these against a backdrop that genre fans will love. This is far from your average werewolf story, and will leave you with some serious food for thought when the end credits roll.
Bloodthirsty premiered at Fantastic Fest 2020 and opens in Select Theaters and On Demand on April 23, 2021.