Art-hor­ror’s lat­est fine splat­ter

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS | -

THE TRANS­FIG­U­RA­TION Di­rected by Michael O’Shea. Star­ring Eric Ruf­fin, Chloe Levine, Aaron Clifton Moten. Club, IFI mem­bers, 97mins Post- Twi­light and True Blood, it’s not un­rea­son­able to sug­gest that vam­pires need a lit­tle lie down in their coffins. Dead? Un­dead? We don’t care – they’re look­ing aw­fully damned tired.

The end of the vogue makes Michael O’Shea’s fiendish sub­ver­sion of the genre all the more sur­pris­ing. Not too far into this trans­fix­ing wel­come rein­ven­tion, the young hero, a vam­pire-ob­sessed out­sider teen named Milo, makes ref­er­ence to To­mas Al­fred­son’s Let the Right One and Ge­orge Romero’s Martin. Those films set the tone and cast a pleas­ingly dis­com­bob­u­lat­ing shadow across The Trans­fig­u­ra­tion.

As with Romero’s anti-hero, we’re left to pon­der whether melan­cholic Milo (Eric Ruf­fin, a su­per­star in the making) – who we first see dis­patch­ing a man in a pub­lic lava­tory, suck­ing his blood, and pock­et­ing his cash – is an overly keen fan-boy or a gen­uine mon­ster.

The case for some class of per­son­al­ity dis­or­der is care­fully out­lined: the boy keeps a killing diary and watches YouTube videos of slaugh­ter­houses. He lives at home with his older brother, an army vet­eran whose fra­ter­nal con­cern can feel like bul­ly­ing and who has re­treated from the dan­gers of the out­side world. Their mother has re­cently killed her­self. Their poor, pri­mar­ily black New York neigh­bour­hood is over­run by gangs and guns. Against this, Milo seems like a de­cent, if con­fused fel­low who goes to school and who be­friends an­other out­cast, So­phie (Chloe Levine), a self- harm­ing girl with a trou­bled home life.

It’s not just the neigh­bour­hood or the pro­tag­o­nist’s eth­nic­ity. The Trans­fig­u­ra­tion main­tains a strange dis­as­so­ci­ated gaze over so­cio-eco­nomic and psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress, an out-of-body sen­sa­tion that re­calls John Sayles’ The Brother from An­other Planet or Boaz Yakin’s Fresh in its si­mul­ta­ne­ous world­li­ness and oth­er­world­li­ness. That at­mos­phere makes the scenes of vi­o­lence all the more im­pact­ful: watch out for The Amer­i­cans’ Danny Fla­herty stum­ble into a drug deal gone very wrong, and for cult hero Larry Fessenden’s be­wil­dered crime vic­tim.

A lovely new ad­di­tion to 2017’s splen­did gallery of su­pe­rior art-hor­rors.

Eric Ruf­fin and Chloe Levine in The Trans­fig­u­ra­tion

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.