Bloodthirsty movie review & film summary (2021)

In “Bloodthirsty,” Grey dreams about eating meat. She’s a vegan when we first meet her, so you can imagine how well she sticks to that personal commitment. Grey’s relationship with Byronic record producer Vaughn (Greg Bryk) is less predictable, though not much less. A dark cloud hangs around Vaughn, possibly because he hides in his isolated estate, but also maybe because people think that he murdered fellow musician Greta (thankfully never seen or heard) while collaborating on her last album. Grey knows of Greta’s sketchy demise, if only because her concerned girlfriend Charlie (Katharine King So) frequently reminds her. But Grey still agrees to visit, work, and sleep over at Vaughn’s house. Because while Vaughn scares Charlie, Grey is even more scared about “my second album flopping.”

That sort of declarative statement isn’t disappointing because it’s overstated, but rather because it’s typical of the movie’s uninflected and often literal-minded view of Grey’s subjective reality. There’s not much in this movie that isn’t neatly explained or blatantly implied by the movie’s all-caps dialogue and slow-burn plot.

We know everything that we need to know about Grey, which makes it harder to care about her character beyond a general hope that she’ll stop forcing herself into situations that require her to believe Vaughn. He seems pretty bad throughout, as Charlie often reminds Grey. He also says that he didn’t kill Greta, and Grey makes herself believe him since her album is “missing something,” but also because you can’t believe everything in the press, as she tells Charlie. So Grey repeatedly submits to Vaughn’s creative vision, and her music does improve. Not by much, mind you, though co-writer/songwriter Lowell’s songs aren’t exactly terrible either.

What really holds “Bloodthirsty” back is its creators’ general unwillingness to make Grey do more than just move around Vaughn’s shadow. Watching her struggle is sort of the point of this type of psychodrama, but it’s still frustrating to see that Lowell and co-writer Wendy Tout-Hill’s scenario doesn’t really push beyond the limits of that type of genre narrative. There are some stark, suggestive images throughout, particularly when Grey records songs in Vaughn’s private studio. But his reflection ultimately haunts our side of the glass window that separates his mixing board from her microphone.

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