Dissociation turns deadly in this sombre not-quite-vampire movie, as a disturbed boy’s obsession with the undead drives him to murder. When we meet Bronx teenager Milo (Eric Ruffin) he’s already a killer, sucking the blood from a businessman’s neck in a subway station bathroom. An orphan in the care of his older brother, Milo lives in fear of the local gangbangers and spends his time watching horror movies and making copious diary entries detailing his quest to become a ‘real’ vampire. When he meets abused girl Sophie (Chloe Levine), the two form an immediate interdependence – but can Milo curb his violent tendencies?
Crisply photographed, thoughtfully plotted and sharply soundtracked, ‘The Transfiguration’ is a solid slice of US indie horror. Ruffin is a wonder, bringing quiet strength and unexpected warmth to an essentially opaque, unknowable character. The depiction of Milo’s ghetto neighbourhood can feel trite – drugs, gangs, a character called Lil G. And the structural similarity to other films – notably ‘Let the Right One In’ and George Romero’s 1978 anti-vampire masterpiece ‘Martin’ – is hard to ignore. Nonetheless this is an impressively restrained and unsettling film.