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Glasgow Film Festival 2017: The Transfiguration review

EERIE: Eric Ruffin in The Transfiguration

THE VOICE attended Glasgow Film Festival 2017, and one of the standout films we got to see was Michael O’Shea’s first feature film debut, The Transfiguration.

The film, which is set in contemporary New York, focuses on the life of a bullied teenager, who is plagued with an obsession with vampirism, and believes that he needs to drink human blood — an instinct he fulfils, resulting in a trail of corpses left in his wake.

For a horror film, this is definitely not what you’d expect. It’s morose tone and arthouse style, makes it an elevated attempt at the traditional horror movie, while brilliantly referencing vampire movies of the past throughout, from “Dracula Untold,” “Thirst,” “Fright Night” and “The Lost Boys.”

While the cinematography and music from Margaret Chardiet certainly shined, it was the eerie portrayal of oddball loner Milo, played by Eric Ruffin that steals the show. The character’s general strangeness is certainly intriguing, as he commands the screen even whilst mingling with other characters, from his brother to his ‘girlfriend’ Sophie, played by Chloe Levine.

Arguably, The Transfiguration does serve as a horror film, but it's the unconventional romance between Milo and Sophia that caught my attention. The rare comedic moments often comes from their encounters (Sophie often tells Milo to watch Twilight, to which he says, “it’s not realistic”) and also shows Milo warm up to Sophie, resulting in his need for vampirism to subside – temporarily that is.

However, Sophie’s character — who was abused by her grandfather, parentless and self-harms — isn’t really explored to her best ability. While the film does focus on Milo, who is the protagonist, there was a great opportunity to develop her character, and she did end up becoming more of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl – the female character who serves to help the male character realise his mistakes and become a ‘better man’.

But what was great about the film was how O’Shea managed to explore how the media can have a sordid impact in real life, as we see Milo’s obsession with vampirism played out through his detailed sketches and notes on how to effectively drain blood, to the continuous stream of vampire movies that he watched on a daily basis. The exploration of the media, and in particular, film’s effect on society within a film, was analytical and impressive.

Overall, The Transfiguration offers an effective horror experience, without any of the cliches. From the opening scene whereby a curious bystander in a public restroom mistakes the sound of enthusiastic sucking in the stalls for a sexual encounter, to the inevitable death of Milo – the pace of the film and brilliant cinematography will definitely keep you entertained.

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