2009 Running time: 134 Certificate: 18 Rating: 3

Synopsis

The vampire legend gets a novel South Korean twist in director Park Chan-wook's fiendishly inventive blood bath. A hospital priest who volunteers for a vaccine experiment finds himself infected... with only the vampiric effects of a rogue blood transfusion able to fight the disease off. Fate plays an even stranger hand when he finds himself ready to break his vows of chastity with a childhood chum's downtrodden wife.

Director

  • Park Chan-wook

Cast

  • Kang-ho Song

  • Ok-vin Kim

  • Hae-sook Kim

  • Ha-kyun Shin

Review

Blood lust takes on a whole new meaning when self-sacrificing Catholic priest Sang-hyun (Kang-ho) finds himself infected while acting as a guinea pig for a new vaccine.

As the disease rages through his system, a blood transfusion turns out to critically affect the patient because it's contaminated with a toxin that transforms hosts into vampires.

So, not much luck there then. However, there is the compensation of a growing sexual attraction between Sang-hyun's celibate churchman and the winsome Tae-ju, the abused wife of a childhood friend.

Shot in muted blues and greys and unfolding in his gruesomely surreal style, this sees director Park staking a claim to being South Korea's own David Cronenberg thanks to disturbingly visceral images of Sang-hyun's desperate bloodsucker filling his boots.

As soon as he feels the virus coming on, he taps into the nearest source of rhesus negative, whether it's slurping the end of an IV drip of a coma patient or a nasty nip of Tae-ju's ivory white neck.

The delicious revelation that the initially demure Tae-ju is equally up for a bit of neck noshing is left to the final half hour of the film, a superbly choreographed feeding frenzy noseferatu-style.

Unfortunately, what has gone before in a film that clocks in at two hours plus is a rather over-elaborate establishment of Sang-hyun as a victim rather than a predator.

Still, there's plenty to get your teeth into - just a shame you've got to wait so long for the main course.