The Transfiguration follows a young man who has an addiction to "sanguinarism", with consuming fresh human blood. Living with his brother in a gang neighborhood, the boy meets a similarly troubled girl and they begin a dark and awkward relationship. As things escalate and secrets come to the surface, the boy must come to terms with his life and make some choices that could have permanent consequences for all involved.
The Transfiguration Review
The Transfiguration was a solid indie horror flick that used sanguinarian vampirism as its vehicle to discuss, in part, the life of a young man growing up in a gang neighborhood. It is the underlying setting of a film that dives deep into the nature of a boy (Eric Ruffin) who is living with his brother after their mother committed suicide and his girlfriend (Chloe Levine) who suffers from an abusive grandfather after losing her parents. Their relationship is one that spells doom from the beginning, but we have Eric's sanguinarian nature on top of everything as it haunts the film's every scene.
Seemingly devoid of emotion, Eric struggles to cope with the life he lives in, even as Chloe comes along and shows compassion and love for him. On top of his lust for blood, he tries to handle this relationship, deal with school and gang bullies, and maintain some semblance of a relationship with his brother. The entire dynamic plays out as an incredibly slow and dry dark drama, similar in vein to Alchemist's Cookbook and They Look Like People. Which means it lulls more often than engages, but the piece in its entirety is required viewing.
I can't say enough for the two lead roles in the film. Chloe and Eric are fantastic and feed off of the imbalanced emotions of everything so well. The opening scene is nothing short of memorable, whether your reaction is one of horror, disgust or reverence to the cleverness of it all. The ending is another piece that carries with you after the film is over. It's just something I am glad that I watched from beginning to end, though I probably wouldn't watch again.
In light of events from the weekend, elements of The Transfiguration are particularly poignant. Racial tension is unnecessarily high. What I mean by "unnecessarily" is the absolute pointlessness of hating or judging someone because of their differences from you. It does nothing to further the only thing that matters, which is love for one another. But too many of the stories end bleakly, like in this film, and we are left with people in mourning, people ready to retaliate, and people with the desire to further a cause that has no value because of its fuel of fear and hate.
But we aren't here to discuss politics and social issues. We're here, hopefully, for a laugh or two and some critical intel on a film in the genre we love. Sometimes we're looking for a laugh, sometimes to be scared to our bones, and still other times we hope to get a message delivered through the vehicle of horror. In this case, we get the latter; a somber tale of what it's like to be different, to cope with mental illness, and what it's like for some people who are born in environments not ideally suitable for a good life. And what's the cost of these environments? Why does it take repercussions outside of it to make an impact on society? Unfortunately, The Transfiguration is just another sample of why these questions exist, and not answers. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't seek those answers.
Horror Qualifier: 5/10
Horror Quality: 2/10
Film Quality: 7/10