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"Bloodthirsty" (2021) Review: A Mostly Were-Worthless Werewolf Film

Certified critic on Rotten Tomatoes. Member of the Houston Film Critics Society. Also writes for Bounding Into Comics and GeeksHaveGame.

The official poster for "Bloodthirsty."

The official poster for "Bloodthirsty."

Bloodthirsty is a lesbian werewolf thriller that is more lesbian than it is werewolf related. The film is written by the mother-daughter writing team of Wendy Hill-Tout and Lowell and directed by Amelia Moses (Bleed with Me). The horror-based thriller stars Lauren Beatty (Bleed with Me, Jigsaw), Greg Bryk (The Handmaid’s Tale, Saw V), Katharine King So in her feature film debut, and Michael Ironside (Starship Troopers, Total Recall) with original music by Lowell.

Grey (Beatty) is a rising music artist who is on the verge of recording her second album. But Grey has writer’s block as all of her time is spent attempting to deal with the graphic and violent dreams she has every night and the hallucinations she has of turning into an animal. She’s supported by her talented painter girlfriend Charlie (King So).

Grey finds a producer for her next album named Vaughn (Bryk) whom she believes will help push her towards a great and successful album. But Vaughn was acquitted for murder and encourages Grey to do unorthodox and sometimes darkly uncomfortable things to achieve the music he believes Grey is capable of. The relationship that forms between Grey and Vaughn disrupts the bond Grey and Charlie had when they first arrive at the recording studio located deep within the isolated snow-covered wilderness.

When you go into a film that labels itself as a werewolf film, you expect to see some werewolves at some point. Bloodthirsty doesn’t follow up on the werewolf front apart from a silhouette of a werewolf as it chomps on someone in the snow and some half-hearted transformation sequences. You never completely witness the full-on transformation of someone covered in hair and blood with razor sharp fangs shining in the moonlight. What you do get is several weak substitutes that resemble vampire transformations in Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire television series; bulky eyebrow lines, protruded lower jaws, and blood dripping from a mouth that clearly hasn’t bitten anyone. Seriously, did they bite their tongue or what?

Lauren Beatty as Grey.

Lauren Beatty as Grey.

The main highlight of Bloodthirsty is Lowell’s music. It captures the tone of the film perfectly with a soundtrack that sounds mainstream and catchy enough to be believable hits of a pop star, but is also filled with dark lyrics and an animalistic demeanor that is deeply unsettling. With the hopes of a solid werewolf transformation out the window, Bloodthirsty does provide a decent slow burn thriller that is also part body horror. Grey dreams about eating rabbits at night, having a bloody mouth, pulling out her own teeth, her fingernails growing inhuman lengths, and having savage eyes. Her time with Vaughn is obviously slowly releasing the more beast-like side of her while forming a wedge between herself and Charlie.

From the opening frame, you know exactly where Bloodthirsty is headed. The film offers very little surprises from beginning to end. On one hand, this could be considered a bad thing since being predictable is not a desirable attribute for a horror film seemingly offering something different from the norm. But on the positive side Bloodthirsty knows what type of film it is and totally embraces it. There’s a craft in the way Grey’s humanity dissolves into full-on werewolf carnage.

Lauren Beatty and Greg Bryk in, "Bloodthirsty."

Lauren Beatty and Greg Bryk in, "Bloodthirsty."

Strangely enough, Bloodthirsty offers a genuine message about not forcing inspiration and being honest with yourself even when deep down you’re a blood craving werewolf. It’s worth admiring the way Bloodthirsty unfolds since it’s in no rush to offer bloody sequences and chooses to focus on the more human side of a creature/monster film. It may not be satisfying to everyone, but Bloodthirsty is a music-infused thriller about a disastrous lesbian relationship at its core and only a werewolf film when the mood is right.

© 2021 Chris Sawin

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