BLOODTHIRSTY

Producers: Wendy Hill-Tout and Michael Peterson   Director: Amelia Moses   Screenplay: Wendy Hill-Tout and Lowell Boland   Cast: Lauren Beatty, Greg Bryk, Katherine King So, Michael Ironside, Judith Buchan, Jayce McKenzie and Jesse Gervais   Distributor:  Brainstorm Media

Grade: C

Amelia Moses’ werewolf movie is atmospheric but slow-moving, generating more discomfort than real terror despite a few grisly moments.

Nevertheless “Bloodthirsty” has an intriguing set-up involving the music business.  Grey (Lauren Beatty) is a newly-arrived singing sensation whose first album is a smash hit, making her a photo-shoot star.

But all is not well.  Though she has a happy relationship with her roommate-lover Charlie (Katherine King So), she’s finding it hard to compose anything new, and has been suffering from terrible nightmares in which she’s becoming wolflike, chomping on chunks of raw meat.  Visits to a doctor (Michael Ironside) have been of no help.

Fortuitously, Grey thinks, an offer arrives from fabulously successful producer Vaughn Daniels (Greg Bryk), who invites her to collaborate with him at his remote recording studio on her next album.  Charlie is concerned because the man has a notorious reputation, having been accused of murdering a previous singer he was working with—though acquitted, as Grey is quick to point out.  It’s an opportunity she can’t resist, so off they go. 

Inevitably a dark shadow falls over the trip when Grey hits an animal in the road as they approach Vaughn’s fearsome manor.  And, of course, he proves to have a Mrs. Danvers-style housekeeper named Vera (Judith Buchan). 

Things quickly deteriorate.  Though a vegan, Grey succumbs to the suggestion that she should eat meat, much to Charlie’s displeasure.  And the nightmares become more intense.  Clearly the Svengali-like Vaughn has proven a bad influence.  But is he more than that?  Without revealing too much, one can note that the film could hardly go on if he weren’t.

In visual terms, “Bloodthirsty” won’t enthrall genre fans who revel in unremitting gore—there are certainly sanguinary moments, but they’re passing, and the effects are rather old-fashioned.  But it has an elegantly moody look, courtesy of   Charles Hamilton’s cinematography and Mike Kasper’s production design.  Its pace is stately—the editing is by David Hiatt—but it doesn’t drag.  And the score by Michelle Osis is effective (the songs are by her and Lowell Boland, who also collaborated with Wendy Hill-Tout on the script).

The performances are also fine. Beatty manages to convince as Grey, both as potential superstar and terrified young woman, and Bryk conveys smooth malice effortlessly.  So is excellent as the concerned girlfriend, while Buchan gives the housekeeper a sense of steely menace.

In fact, the film as a whole is a more than competent exercise in the werewolf canon, sufficiently distinctive for genre fans to give it a watch.  It’s just not liable to blow them away.