Horror Movie Review: The Transfiguration (2016)

The Transfiguration is a horror movie that was written & directed by Michael O’Shea, it released in 2016. The film follows Milo, a deeply disturbed teen with a fascination for vampires. He meets Sophie, an equally troubled girl. They form a strong bond that will be tested when Milo’s terrible secret is almost revealed.

The film opens with Milo drinking the blood of a dead man. He then steals his wallet, washes his mouth and leaves for home. Once there, he crosses a date off his calendar and adds the stolen cash to a secret bag. He is often shown emotionlessly watching videos of graphic violence in his room.

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Later, we see Milo getting bullied by some kids. Also, he regularly gets mocked by gang members who live in the same neighbourhood as him. Then, Milo meets Sophie and helps her with some bags. The next day, he witnesses a group of me taking turns having sex with Sophie. After they leave he walks in on Sophie as she is cutting herself. When he leans in towards her bloody arm, she stops him. They come back to his house to watch a video, during which she abruptly leaves. Milo is shown staring at a closed door. He is often shown watching movies about vampires, or just listening to them without watching. Milo visits the park where he sleeps beneath a bridge and ambushes a hobo and drinks his blood. He then mark another date off his calendar.

The next day he ask Sophie out for movies where they watch Nosferatu, which he considers a realistic depiction of vampirism. After, Sophie claims Twilight is a better film and suggests he watch or read it. Milo speaks about what he thinks realistic vampires are like. He points out that he believes vampires cannot kill themselves. Both of them reveal that both of their parents are dead. Milo’s mother killed herself when he was younger and it’s later revealed that he discovered her body.

Milo & Sophie’s relationship continues to blossom more and more. All the while, Milo begins to find it more difficult to control his dark urges for blood. Something that puts those closest to him at risk.

The Transfiguration is a really well-crafted film. The narrative slowly unfolds expertly. There is a lot of psychology at play as well as plenty of metaphors that are fun to dissect. The idea of Milo’s fascination with blood stemming from the discovery of his deceased mother is extremely dark. However, it’s brilliant in terms of the storytelling. Unless it isn’t already clear, this isn’t a very uplifting movie. It’s sombre, depressing, about as bleak as it gets.

To me, this feels like something of a love letter to the vampire sub-genre. It may not be entirely original but I’ve never seen a vampire film like it. Milo is a fanatic for bloodsuckers which leads to an abundance of references. I like that Milo never really criticized any one vampire movie. He just didn’t like them because they were unrealistic. It’s as if he seeks the films out in the hopes of finding an iteration that closely resembles what he’s experiencing.

Milo does horrific things but you can’t help but feel genuine sadness for him. It’s difficult to look at him as the victim considering what he does. Ultimately, he’s simply a traumatised boy that just needs some help. Instead, he keeps all of his trauma bottled up. At times, he shows glimpses of his dwindling humanity which just makes it all the sadder.

Eric Ruffin who plays Milo is excellent. Milo is such an unassuming figure. Still, the way he moves around so purposefully is very creepy. He has a constant emotionless expression throughout that helps deliver some chilling scenes. Even in moments of violence, his face never changes. There is a tonal shift when he strikes and it’s all helped greatly by a brilliant, dread-filled score. Also, the gore effects work is top-notch, really realistic looking.

Additionally, I really liked the dialogue and delivery. It felt natural and authentic.

If I’m ever talking about the best slow-burn horror movies, The Transfiguration will be one that springs to mind.




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