DIRECTOR: Michael O'Shea
WRITER: Michael O'Shea
An outcast orphan by the name of Milo who lives with his older brother in a dangerous neighbourhood of the projects. Milo is also a fan of vampires stories and movies. Milo also believes that he is a vampire, himself. At night, he goes around killing people and drinking their blood. When he meets a depressed teenager named Sophie. The two of them become fast friends, and this begins to affect Milo and his need to kill.
I remember as far as a year back that I had heard rumblings about this low-budget, indie, vampire flick called The Transfiguration which was doing the rounds at a lot of prestigious film festivals. As the year went on, I had heard a lot of people talk about the film on various horror movie podcasts. Word of mouth was mixed. Many said the film was either a love or hate it type of movie. There seemed to be no middle ground from what I had heard. Cut to me watching it last night, and I find myself in the 'like' it crowd.
The Transfiguration will no doubt draw comparisons to another really famous vampire movie that came out of Sweden a few years back. That movie is the masterpiece Let The Right One In. Both films deal with the relationship between young kids, or in this case, teenagers where one is or who believes that they are a vampire. You really can't avoid it here. The movies are very similar in their themes. Just one plays the vampire aspect more supernatural than the other. Also, the quality regarding storytelling is a lot better in Let The Right One In.
One area that The Transfiguration worked well was throwing these two child/teenage actors into the deep end. By that, I mean, this movie deals with some heavy subject matter. The director puts his young cast into moments that some directors may have shied away from or audiences may find incredibly uncomfortable. While none of the themes felt gratuitous at all. The movie almost had a Larry Clark sort of approach to the way it viewed adolescence. I may be the only one who felt this way, but I got a very sort of Kids vibe from the filming style.
The score by Margaret Chardiet is absolutely fantastic. The entire time that I was sat watching this movie. I was so in tune with the haunting score. I'm not someone who takes notice of scores very much, and it's very rare that I even buy soundtracks that aren't filled with songs or actual tracks I like. So for me to have my spine tingle every time our young Milo started to cure his bloodlust by murdering people, the score was at the forefront, and it chilled me to the bone. It is up there with Kill List and Under The Skin for me regarding brilliant scores.
When it comes to the violence, the movie does not shy away. I said previously that the movie puts its teenage cast into some pretty nasty situations and the violence is no exception. This is bloody and brutal. The movie has several moments that actually disturbed me as a viewer. A scene involving a young girl no older than eight has her throat slit, and it shows you everything. When it was a child murdering another child, it hit hard, and it had a real sense of sadness to it. It's a film that deals with a lot of violence towards children. Sure to upset sensitive viewers.
Another element that I found myself enjoying was watching the two teenagers name dropping vampire movies. We have the inevitable teenage girl talking about her love of Twilight. But what really surprised me was when they name dropped the excellent Shadow Of The Vampire. I also loved that this teenage boy was interested in watching Nosferatu in a little arthouse cinema. It was nice to see the movie show respect and love for everything that came before it. It almost felt meta in its approach to being able to boast about a lot of vampire movies within a vampire movie.
My issues with The Transfiguration all falls back on the pacing of the movie. This is painfully slow. There are times during the film where I was finding myself looking at the clock. Most of the movie is worthy of praise, but I can't deny that I was at times a little bored in sections of the movie. It is, however, not enough to kill the overall film. Digging deep enough and you will find a vampire movie that does work for the most part. One that will be remembered.
Lastly, we come to the acting. The acting, for the most part, is pretty impressive for such a young cast of unknowns. Eric Ruffin as Milo is the standout. He has to be as the entire movie rides on his shoulders. He carries this film. He plays what a young kid who is also a cold-blooded killer. He does well at displaying both the evilness and vulnerability of the character. Chloe Levine is also great as the damaged Sophie. She does a lot of things in this film that is mature beyond her years, and she pulls it off.
DEATH TOLL: 7
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A young kid is seen drinking a man's blood in a bathroom stall.
- A young girl is seen cutting her arm with a razor blade.
- A young boy tries to drink blood from cut wounds.
- A young kid is gunned down in the street.
- A teenage girl is stabbed in the throat.
- Real footage of animals being killed in slaughterhouses.
- An old man jogging is attacked and killed in a tunnel.
- A teenager is beaten and shot to death.
- A woman slits her wrists and is found in bed.
- A little girl has her throat slashed.
- A man is repeatedly stabbed in the throat.
After watching The Transfiguration, I was left a little disappointed. When I came to write my review for the movie tonight, I automatically gave it a five out of ten. I was honestly torn. As I began to write the review, I realised that the positive outweighed the negative. The more I thought about this film, the more I realised that I actually enjoyed it. It's dark, it's gory, it has a haunting score, and the direction from Michael O'Shea feels raw. This feels like Larry Clark's Kids meets Let The Right One In.