When troubled teen Milo, who has a fascination with vampire lore, meets the equally alienated Sophie, the two form a bond that begins to blur Milo’s fantasy into reality.
Milo (Eric Ruffin) lives in a world of hopelessly blurred between reality, aspirations, life and death. Reeling from the loss of his mother, he has recoiled into a fixation with vampires, vampire lore, and acting out his darkest thoughts. Meanwhile his older brother is oblivious to the spiral his younger sibling is slipping into, being to busy hanging with his friends, selling drugs, or blankly staring at the television. Writer, director Michael O’Shea‘s new film The Transfiguration is a slow, meditative horror film that focuses not so much on what happens, but how the characters react to them that works more than it doesn’t if you can slow yourself down and soak in the blood.
Our protagonist meets up with a young girl, Sophie (Chloe Levine) and there is something magic that happens between them. Recognizing their mutual distance from society the two form a rather endearing bond. Milo talks endlessly about his favorite vampire movies while Sophie massages her self inflicted lacerations and recovers from her alcoholic father’s beatings. It sounds trite but there is a real chemistry between Ruffin and Levine as the two rejects that is sincere, refreshing, and at times profoundly moving. Secrets are discovered and plans are made to skip town. Milo and Sophie eventually decide that running is the way to escape their current situations. But will the two get away from life in time to continue on in their fantasy?
The Transfiguration is a cool, existential look at one young man’s flight from the horrors surrounding him by creating a new reality that he desperately wants to be real. O’Shea shoots the film with an almost Hanake, fly-on-the-wall observant nature that lets action or the lack thereof unfold before the viewer. The camera never turns away from what is happening however shocking or benign. This is clean, almost ambivalent narration that demands you sit up and take it in.
No this is not something akin to Nosferatu, a film that Milo references by name in the movie. This is a quiet, sometimes shocking story of a young boy suffering loss, finding his way, and ultimately how he gets to where he is headed. What makes the film really work is the pitch perfect casting of the two leads and their chemistry on screen along with the bravery by director O’Shea to hold a shot and let the audience work a little. The Transfiguration is a kind of Moonlight meets Let the Right One In that sinks it’s teeth in without you even noticing.
March 17th, Alamo Ritz 2, 2:15pm
Opens in New York on Friday, April 7th at the Angelika Film Center
Opens in Los Angeles on Friday, April 21st at The Nuart Theatre