Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Genre Character of the Week: Father Sang-Hyeon

During my month exiled to the world of Twilight, I made a few excursions into mainstream horror to keep my spirits up. One of the most surprising of these was the Korean horror film Thirst (I’m not sure why I was surprised, it was made by the guy who directed Oldboy and starred the guy from my favourite giant monster film of the decade, The Host). The film focuses on a good man (a priest) who after volunteering for an experimental drug, is transformed into a vampire. This week we’ll look at at this priest, Father Sang-Hyeon.

The genius of the film comes from the first half hour, in which we are shown just how good a guy our protagonist is, we follow him through his duties of ministering to the sick in a hospital, taking confessions and basically being a decent human being who is becoming overwhelmed by all the real-life horror and death in the world. After volunteering for an experimental drug study, he is infected by a terrible disease (he writes comforting letters to his parishioners so they won’t worry about him), and dies. Then, due to a tainted blood donation he receives, he comes back as a vampire.

The rest of the film follows this simple man as his moral compass is spun, twisted and virtually destroyed by his new-found condition. He falls in love with a girl being abused by her family and their relationship starts sweetly, then becomes incredibly intense and eventually turns very dark.

As I said in one of my posts on the Twilight Saga, this film has, in my opinion one of the more logical outcomes of a romance between a human and a vampire, it is intriguing, amazing, frightening, and ultimately tragic, as the best stories about vampires are.

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