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Review: Thirst – “Great physical gore effects”

Thirst (Þorsti) is an Icelandic vampire movie that is written by first-timer Björn Leó Brynjarsson and is the directorial debut of actor Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson alongside co-director Gaukur Úlfarsson (Gnarr). Hjörtur Sævar Steinason (Fangavaktin), Hulda Lind Kristinsdóttir (The Goth Gang), Jens Jensson (Punkturinn) and Ester Sveinbjarnardóttir (Echo) all star.

Hulda (Lind Kristinsdóttir) is a drug addict whose brother has just died and finds herself wandering the frozen streets of Reykjavik looking for a hit, somewhere to stay and a purpose. What she finds is a strange balding yet longhaired man in a long leather duster and a shiny shirt getting a good kicking from some Icelandic thugs.

An inherently good person no matter the bad choices she has made until now, Hulda intervenes and the stranger makes short work of his attackers, literally ripping them to pieces. The man is Hjörtur (Sævar Steinason), a gay vampire with a predilection for ripping his victim’s dicks off and munching them down.

Hjörtur vows to protect Hulda and to also repay her kindness by resurrecting her brother, and the two new friends are set on a collision course with repulsive local cop Jens (Jensson) – who is investigating a recent spate of murders where the male victims have been drained of blood and relieved of their appendages – and his wife Ester (Sveinbjarnardóttir) – a televangelical lunatic who believes the end is nigh trying to start an apocalyptic cult.

First, Thirst looks and sounds great. Cinematographer Hakon Sverrisson has created a very cool and atmospheric look for the film that is all high contrast colours and misty streets punctuated by lens flares. Pairing brilliantly with the distinctive visuals is Berndsen’s synthwave score full of bangers that often erupts into rad throwback electro tracks like this.

Unfortunately, the tone of the film is bewildering and makes for a film that is a struggle to get through, let alone enjoy. The dialogue is painfully trying to be odd on purpose but just plays out as stupefyingly bad. Someone thought this stuff was very funny, but the comedy is not at all amusing, just awkward and embarrassing, and Hjörtur’s preoccupation with the tearing off of male genitalia is handled bizarrely. 

This happens so frequently that for stretches of the film almost every other shot seems to feature a recently disembodied cock flopping about before being bitten by Hjörtur, shoved down an unsuspecting policeman’s throat or munched down in a hot dog roll. It’s never even funny – just repellent and maddeningly over-used.

Beyond the sausage fest, the nauseatingly over-emphasised eating sound effects – just normal dinner, not wangers – and the somehow both too vague and too drawn out at the same time story, there are some great physical gore effects that really shine in a bloodbath of a finale.

Thirst is released on DVD and digital on the 1st December

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