The ‘Icelandic gay vampire splatter comedy’ strand of contemporary horror filmmaking might reasonably be described as ‘niche’. That means there are few reference points against which to compare Thirst; a new low-budget tale of crime, cults, and carnage that’s determined to stand out from the indie pack.
Mourning the passing of her brother, drug-addict Hulda is arrested by the police on suspicion of involvement in his death. Released for lack of evidence, Hulda meets Hjörtur, a 1000-year-old vampire with a voracious appetite for a certain male appendage. With detectives still convinced of Hulda’s guilt, Hjörtur decides to help by reanimating her brother’s corpse. Circling these chaotic creatures of the night, are an evangelical TV preacher and a bizarre underground fringe group with Hjörtur in their sights. The plot of Thirst takes a distant second place to the gore and the twisted freakishness that directors Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson and Gaukur Úlfarsson want the audience to focus attention on instead.
Pretty much everything about Thirst is gleefully, wilfully grotesque. Hollywood vampire flicks are populated with the beautiful, seductive, and effortlessly-stylish undead. In contrast, Thirst star Hjörtur looks more like Richard O’Brien’s ‘Riff Raff’ from Rocky Horror – after a few extra centuries of hard living. There’s nothing romantic about Thirst. This is no epic tale of loss and redemption; the usual ‘ancient prophecy’ beats barely feature. Instead, there are buckets of blood and entrails, and mouthfuls of bitten-off masculine meat. This is a small-scale movie in which the limitations of budget are as evident on-screen as the makers’ clear belief that they have crafted a ‘cult’ classic. Not every horror aficionado will choose to drink deep from Thirst. Whether you laugh, gag, or roll your eyes at the surreal, absurdist blood-letting on offer here will tell you something about the kind of genre cinephile you are.
Thirst is released on DVD and digital in the US on December 1st