“Bloodthirsty” review: things get beastly in the recording studio

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After giving the vampire a youthful, female-centric twist in “Bleed With Me,” Canadian director Amelia Moses does the werewolves the same favor in “Bloodthirsty.” This second feature is also a slow-burning story that takes place between three main characters in a remote setting. But this time around, the screenplay is signed by producer Wendy Hill-Tout and her daughter, singer-songwriter Lowell, who make music industry pressures an integral part of the story.

To some extent, this accent may disappoint horror fans who want more of the fanged action that takes its time to get here. But within its modest limits, “Bloodthirsty” does a pretty commendable job balancing supernatural suspense with the drama of a young artist’s insecurities at a key point in his early career. That might sound like a great metaphor, but as it goes, “Recording a second album made me a monster” sounds like the truth. Brainstorm Media will be released on VOD on April 23 in the United States; Raven Banner will be released simultaneously in Canada.

Gray (Lauren Beatty, who was also on “Bleed”) is an artist in her twenties whose debut album was apparently a success – enough to be harassed in the press for news of a follow-up, as well. that if she plans to marry her girlfriend at home. She finds both subjects intrusive, although at least domesticity with painter Charlie (Katherine King So) is a stable and supportive element in her life. Charlie, however, is not overly supportive when he learns that Gray has chosen the esteemed but reclusive Vaughn Daniels (Greg Bryk) as the producer of his next record … or rather, he has deigned to work with her. This is problematic because not so long ago he was tried for the murder of another young woman he was recording, although the charges were eventually dropped.

The two women nonetheless drive in nonsense to her home-slash-studio, an awe-inspiring and slightly spooky rectory with an imperious housekeeper a la Mrs. Danvers (Judith Buchan as Vera). It doesn’t take long before Charlie and their host go head to head, especially after he stages the late Greta’s supposed suicide using a real gun. He prompts Gray to embrace the “primitive something” that he can “smell all over you”, leading her to admit that she is on medication (prescribed by Michael Ironside as a briefly seen shrink) because she “hallucinates that I’m turning into an animal.” Surprise: it turns out that these visions aren’t just delusional fantasies, and besides, she may have been drawn here to Vaughn because they have something to do with them. alarming (not to mention very, very primitive) in common.

When a transformation finally occurs, well into the last third of the film, the cinematic lycanthrophile may find the result which is curiously reminiscent of the main character of “Werewolf Woman”, one of the unrecognized glories of 1970s Italian exploitation films. But unlike this hairy lady, Gray keeps her clothes on, and Moses’ film doesn’t touch camp or kitsch. While it can certainly be scarier, with a more explosive finale (and a less improbably neat conclusion), the psychological tensions are credibly etched.

Performances are solid all around, but the film’s stealth weapon is Bryk – he quietly downplays Vaughn, so it’s smelly and disturbing when we understand how well this character lives up to his self-billing as ” predator”. No wonder that under his roof Gray begins to write songs like the eponymous one, whose lyrics complain that everything gives him “goose bumps”.

Lowell, who has collaborated on records by Hailee Steinfeld, Bulow, Madison Beer and others, gives Gray songs that are certainly plausible as coming from a broken mainstream artist, although they seem less ambitious or edgy here. (as sung by Beatty) as material on her own real life albums. She won an original song and shared the original score award with composer Michelle Osis for “Bloodthirsty” at the Canadian Screen Awards earlier this year.

Although much of it takes place inside Chez Daniels (imparted a tasteful neo-Gothic vibe by production designer Mike Kasper), the film is most atmospheric in the woods outside, their cold winter nicely captured by the DP Charles Hamilton.


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