Reviewed by: Harvey Karten, CompuServe Film d-based on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: Michael O’Shea
Written by: Michael O’Shea
Cast: Eric Ruffin, Chloe Levine, Aaron Clifton Moten, Carter Redwood, Danny Flaherty
Screened at: Review 2, NYC, 3/27/17
Opens: April 7, 2017
“The Transfiguration” is Michael O’Shea’s freshman entry into filmmaking and it shows. One might conclude that in making such a slow-burning drama around the vampire legend, he is showing himself to be arty, suggesting that the desire to suck blood is not genetic for its principal character, Milo (Eric Ruffin) but rather environmental. That is, Milo has become so entranced by the movies and one doorstopper of a book about folks with huge canine teeth that he wants to try out the phenomenon for himself. Instead of pushing the envelope on horror, instead of creating truly horrific scenes, O’Shea wants us to consider him a thoughtful person using vampirism as a metaphor for the aggressiveness that is brought on by loneliness.
The whole scene is too precious in the sense of being too refined, even soporific. Whether the mixed-racial boyfriend-girlfriend aspect is meant to be a message about racial harmony, a desideratum brought about my mutual loneliness, is difficult to know.
Milo has no friends, as he freely reports to his school guidance counselor. His brother Lewis (Aaron Clifton) is a decent guy back home in New York from a Middle-East war zone, and appears to be fond of his Milo, though his way of expressing his affection is through macho commands like “Wake up. There’s a white girl outside the door looking for you.” The girl, Sophie (Chloe Levine) has nobody at home to nurture her and dreams of escape. Meanwhile she and Milo establish a bond as they recognize each other for the ostracized characters they are. Milo’s idea of a date with her is watching some VHS films in his apartment library about slaughterhouse techniques and includes the classic “Nosferatu.” Her liking for him may even be encouraged by hearing the thuggish tenants in the area calling him “freak.”
Though more a character study than a horror film, there are occasions for the alienated young man to suck some blood, including that of a man in the men’s room from whom he steals money and a drunk on the street whom he follows in the apartment, feasting on the inhabitants. When Milo silently witnesses the killing of a white man, Mike (Danny Flaherty) looking for score some coke, matters become critical as the gangbangers who call him “freak” have special plans for him.
“The Transfiguration” which was shown at the Cannes festival un certain regard section, will likely be a hard sell to fans of “Twilight” and of the more sophisticated “Let the Right One In.”
Rated R. 97 minutes. © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
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