The Transfiguration

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Michael O’Shea

Starring

Chloe Levine Eric Ruffin Jelly Bean

Anticipation.

The vampire movie gets its gritty, realist curtain call. Intrigued.

Enjoyment.

A little too self-conscious to connect, but the anti-hero lead is compelling enough.

In Retrospect.

O’Shea knows the terrain, but it would’ve been nice to see him forge his own path.

The vampire movie gets an injection of postmodern blood in this intriguing teen drama.

This is what you might call a revisionist vampire movie, in that it is very much like a normal vampire movie but without the eroticism or excitement. Purposefully so. Writer/director Michael O’Shea has chosen to transpose the classic bloodsucker yarn to an inner-city housing project, but there’s little more to it than that.

Eric Ruffin’s latchkey teen loner Milo makes for a low-key central protagonist, one with whom you are urged to extend sympathy even while he’s engaging in all manner of extremely wicked business. He skulks around looking like he’s constantly on the verge of tears, and speaks with a soft, neutral pitch redolent of a tranqued-up guidance counsellor. You simply don’t expect him to spend his evenings sneaking up on lone pedestrians with a concealed craft knife up his sleeve and then bleeding them dry, direct from the jugular.

A whirring, oscillator sound is used on the soundtrack as a way to
signpost any upcoming nasties, but the film works to try and make the succession of killings as banal and anonymous as possible. The one victim who does get a moment to shine is looking to score drugs, so in the film’s strangely moralistic universe, deserves to perish.

Young or old, black or white, everyone is a potential source of restorative blood for Milo, but the fact that he extends no sympathy for his victims is never explored in any real detail. Milo spends much of his downtime watching vampire themed movies, recorded from the television onto battered VHS tapes.

He regularly namechecks the films he likes – George Romero’s Martin, Tony Scott’s Near Dark, Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In, which comes across as O’Shea wanting to broadcast the fact that he’s done his homework. There are plenty of sick burns at the expense of the Twilight movies, which is absolutely fine by us.

Published 18 Apr 2017

Anticipation.

The vampire movie gets its gritty, realist curtain call. Intrigued.

Enjoyment.

A little too self-conscious to connect, but the anti-hero lead is compelling enough.

In Retrospect.

O’Shea knows the terrain, but it would’ve been nice to see him forge his own path.

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