The Transfiguration

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Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The Transfiguration
"Don't be suckered in by the promises of bloodsucking."

Don't be suckered in by the promises of bloodsucking. While the protagonist (Eric Ruffin) of Michael O'Shea's debut may have an obsession with Dracula in all his forms, this is not a tale of the undead but the horror of the everyday as experienced by the mixed up kid at its heart. An air of abandonment hangs around every corner of teenager Milo's life. Orphaned by illness and suicide, he lives with his brother Lewis (Aaron Moten) in the far reaches of New York, watching vampire movies at night but otherwise leading an almost solitary and silent existence. O'Shea ensures we never feel the hustle of the city, instead leading us through its fringe spaces, where buildings run out and wasteland begins.

The only difference between Milo and thousands of disaffected teens like him is that he has taken his obsession to new levels, marking out a day of the month when he makes a bid to get in touch with his inner vamp by killing someone and drinking their blood. The arrival of a new teen in the neighbourhood, Sophie (Chloe Levine), brings a sudden change of tack to his life. She is also orphaned and lives with her abusive grandfather in the same apartment block. Somehow, she is drawn to Milo's silence and he to her damage, which suddenly leaves him questioning other aspects of his life.

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O'Shea happily references a ton of vampire films - in particular George A Romero's Martin, whose realism appeals both to the director and Milo. Beyond the references, though, he doesn't really explore the concept particularly deeply, as it applies to his protagonist, which feels like an opportunity missed. There is some fun to be had in the conflicting mythologies of Milo's favourite movies (also including Nosferatu, Let The Right One In and Near Dark) and those favoured by Sophie (Twilight and TV show True Blood) but this is mostly a serious and slow-moving character study. The pacing is a problem, as is the almost casual way O'Shea expects us to believe a group of black teenagers would kill a white kid more or less for the fun of it - a tired cliche that is all too convenient.

The real appeal here is the casting. Ruffin is great as the conflicted teen and he and Chloe Levine, who has a sparkle that would put a Twilight vampire in the shade, should be destined for a lot more lead roles. O'Shea also shows good control of mood - helped no end by Margaret Chardiet's ambient electro scoring - he just needs to work harder at his story development so that we feel it when he goes for the jugular.

Reviewed on: 14 Apr 2017
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Tale of love, loss and vampires.

Director: Michael O'Shea

Writer: Michael O'Shea

Starring: Eric Ruffin, Chloe Levine, Larry Fessenden, Aaron Moten, Danny Flaherty

Year: 2016

Runtime: 97 minutes

Country: US


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