Michael O’Shea’s debut film, The Transfiguration, is a clever take on the vampire movie. It inverts our expectations and subverts familiar genre tropes to create something unique and very, very dark.
Milo (Eric Ruffin) is a creepy stoic who fancies himself a vampire. We’re introduced to Milo while he casual drinks the blood of a random dude in a subway toilet, yum! Milo is the kind of guy you’d want watching your kids while you nipped out with your partner for a romantic meal. He spends his time watching animals eat the shit out of other animals on YouTube; he draws creepy pictures of people eating the shit out of other people; also, he kills people and drinks their blood, because he thinks he is a vampire – the perfect role model.
Enter Sophie, played by Chloe Levine. Obviously abused at home and on the streets, she meets Milo. He is probably the first male that hasn’t tried to hit her or hit on her and thusly they become friends. Milo is mostly silent unless he is talking about vampire stuff. He crackles to life while discussing all things creepy, revealing the excitable teenager and sliver of a human that lies beneath all of that murdering. Eventually, Sophie manages to get through to Milo and create one of the sweetest (if not most twisted) on screen relationships I’ve seen in some time.
Let The Right One In may be the closest comparison to The Transfiguration, but this movie eschews any of the fairy-tale "whimsy" of the Swedish classic. As the movie progresses, things start to spiral to an unbelievably bleak conclusion.
The Transfiguration is dotted with extreme scenes of gore and murder. It’s a nihilistic film; there is a grim inevitability to everything that goes “wrong”, It feels oppressive. But marbled through all that hopeless hate-meat is a very touching love story about two teens who have had extremely tough lives and through each other, are able to find some kind of comfort and normalcy, which his very important in Milo’s case. What seems like an inhuman monster eventually reveals himself to be someone who is in dire need of love. The main dichotomy is between the dying embers of Milo's humanity and his "vampiric" side. Watching him struggle with this choice is fascinating and a great testament to Eric Ruffin's brilliant performance.
I don’t really have a bad word to say about The Transfiguration. It’s a brilliant debut effort from O’Shea with two very strong leads and a fresh take on vampire fiction.