Lauren Beatty, Greg Bryk, Katharine King So, Judith Buchan, Michael Ironside
Directed by Amelia Moses
Crossing werewolves with pop singers isn’t too far-fetched especially after Lil Nas X made headlines recently for hawking Satan Shoes filled with human blood. Plus, we all know that Billie Eilish is part of a coven, and judging by his videos and live performances, The Weeknd is slowly transforming into a mummy. In other words, the music industry and horror go hand in hand. Amelia Moses’ sophomore feature “Bloodthirsty” crosses Lycan and Werewolf mythology as a vegan indie artist (Lauren Beatty) attempts to record a follow-up to her successful debut album while battling nightmares and an irresistible craving for raw meat.
Singer-songwriter Grey (Beatty) whose first album was a smash is now under pressure to deliver another hit record which explains why she has decided to work with veteran music producer Vaughn Daniels (Greg Bryk) despite his dark past. Her girlfriend Charlie (Katherine King So) is skeptical about the collaboration noting Vaughn was once tried for murder. It doesn’t faze Grey who adds “He was acquitted.”
The two head to Vaughn’s isolated home in the woods complete with its own recording studio where they are greeted by housekeeper Vera (Judith Buchan), a nice substitute for Frau Blücher (insert whinnying horse). Charlie, an artist, has come along to do some painting while Grey and Vaughn work on the album. The snow-covered woods that surround the home are sure to provide inspiration, but they also signify that a hasty retreat may be out of the question.
Vaughn is a creepy guy, no doubt. Bryk has fun with the role, reciting lines that include “I can smell it all over you, something primal” in a slow seductive tone. Does he know that Grey has been suffering from hallucinations that usually end with her face covered in blood after ripping the entrails out of a rabbit? She feels as though she’s turning into an animal and now the medication prescribed by her shrink (Michael Ironside in a nice cameo) has stopped working.
Moses throws in a few icky scenes — Grey goes to the fridge and drinks the bloody water off a plate with a raw steak — before allowing the Lycan-esque narrative to kick in during the grisly finale that features a great scene in a recording studio.
Written by Wendy Hill-Tout and her daughter Canadian singer-songwriter Lowell, who contributes four catchy ethereal songs to the soundtrack, “Bloodthirsty” goes against Werewolf tropes (no full moon in sight) as the duo rewrite mythology while using the mostly female cast as a symbol of empowerment.
Amelia Moses must have a fixation with blood after making her debut in 2018 with the vampire-tinged “Bleed with Me” which also stars protagonist Lauren Beatty. Both films incorporate many of the same elements, an isolated setting in the woods, nightmares, and unsettling imagery, plus a narrative that proceeds in slow-burn mode.
Werewolf films are tons of fun and they’ve come a long way since Stuart Walker’s 1935 “Werewolf of London” which hit movie theaters six years before Lon Chaney’s iconic performance in “The Wolf Man.” Last year Jim Cummings released “The Wolf of Snow Hollow” a funny and frightening take on the genre, and while there are a few moments of levity in Moses’ film — Grey the vegan being tempted by Vaughn to eat some steak at the dinner table is quite amusing — the vibe is straight-up thriller with shades of 1981’s “The Howling” thrown in for good measure.
Available now On Demand