The Hollywood Reporter reviews GEP friends’ THE TRANSFIGURATION:
An orphaned African-American teen leads a secret life fed by vampire lore in Michael O’Shea’s indie debut, premiering at Cannes in Un Certain Regard.
Wide-ranging references to vampire mythology in literature and cinema are scattered throughout writer-director Michael O’Shea’s low-key but absorbing first feature, The Transfiguration. But what distinguishes this stripped-down anti-horror film — set amid the housing projects and lonely beachfronts of the Rockaways in Queens, New York — is its absence of the supernatural. While death by bloodsucking is very much a factor, this is actually a subdued, contemplative drama about the lingering trauma of grief and the efforts of an introspective teenager to invent an invulnerable persona to shield and ultimately release him.
In an insider nod to horror fans, Lloyd Kaufman and Larry Fessenden make brief appearances in ill-fated encounters with Milo. The bloodletting here is a million miles away from the cartoonish schlock violence of Kaufman’s Troma brand, but not entirely unrelated to some of Fessenden’s low-budget early horror films, with their focus on human psychology and social milieu over traditional genre elements. Fessenden’s long association with Kelly Reichardt as a producer also is relevant, given the acknowledged influence here of that filmmaker’s minimalist realism.
O’Shea uses the bursts of droning ambient noise and the somber electronic sounds of Margaret Chardiet’s score to arresting effect. But he’s less interested in creating suspense or pumping up atmosphere than in exploring the ways in which horror, and its intoxicating relationship with death, can be a paradoxical balm for the more earthly cruelties of life. That makes The Transfiguration a difficult movie to classify, but one with an emotional depth that creeps up on you.
Check out the full review at HollywoodReporter.com