Friday, 11 August 2017

The Transfiguration (2017)

“21st Century MARTIN”

A film that is as much social commentary as it is a movie about vampires (and vampire movies), Michael O’Shea’s THE TRANSFIGURATION is getting a Blu-ray and DVD release in the UK courtesy of Thunderbird Pictures.

In a rough area of New York, fourteen year old Milo (Eric Ruffin) is an outsider, small for his age and bullied by the gang members who patrol the estate where he lives. His mother has committed suicide and he lives with his older brother. Coping with his situation by sinking himself deep into vampire lore, his shelves are filled with VHS cassettes of everything from Murnau’s NOSFERATU to THE LOST BOYS, with his favourites are the one he considers ‘real’ - George A Romero’s MARTIN, Elias Merhige’s SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE and Tomas Alfredson’s LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.

But there are other aspects to Milo’s life that he doesn’t talk about, certainly not to his neighbour and prospective girlfriend Sophie (Chloe Levine). He attends sessions with the school psychiatrist who repeatedly questions him about potential psychopathic behaviour, and when he’s out on the streets alone the people Milo meets don’t always survive the encounter.

Michael O’Shea’s film does a fine job of being a gritty realist drama first, and homage to movies like Romero’s MARTIN second. Milo’s existence (and that of those around him) is pretty grim, and THE TRANSFIGURATION might be a bit too gloomy and oppressive for vampire movie fans while at the same time being a bit too gruesome for art-house audiences. 

Full marks to O’Shea, though, for achieving a thoughtful balance absolutely worth of comparison with Romero. The director is happy to wear his exploitation influences on his sleeve with guest victim appearances from both Lloyd Kaufman (in another surprise cameo after James Gunn’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) and Larry Fessenden. The acting from the young leads is measured, considered and appropriately affecting, and if you’re a fan of quiet, grim, tower block horror then this will do very nicely indeed.

Thunderbird’s Blu-ray comes with director’s commentary, making of, deleted and extended scenes and a trailer. THE TRANSFIGURATION received praise at Cannes and I’m not at all surprised. It will be interesting to see what Michael O’Shea comes up with next. 

Michael O'Shea's THE TRANSFIGURATION is out on 
Blu-ray and DVD from Thunderbird Releasing on Monday 14th August 2017

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