The Transfiguration (2016) Movie Review

We all endure trauma in our lifetime, some more than others. It effects us in different ways based on the source of the trauma and severity of the trauma, as well as on our mental state. To someone who is already in a delicate position emotionally and mentally, a major trauma could lead to a separation from reality, as is the case with Milo, the lead in the indie vampire film The Transfiguration.

The Transfiguration is the debut feature from writer/director Michael O’Shea. The film stars Eric Ruffin and Chloe Levin (The Ranger 2018).

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.

The Transfiguration feels like an contemporary upgrade of George Romero’s underrated masterpiece Martin, but more centered on drama and the relationship between two damaged young people. The film follows a Milo, a young teen from a bad neighborhood who has had a rough life and no friends. His father died after a long bout with an unspecified illness. Years later, his mother commits suicide, leaving him in the care of his military veteran brother, who pretty much lets him come and go as he pleases. Milo has an unhealthy obsession with vampires.

How bad is it, you ask? All he watches are vampire films, which he judges by how realistic their portrayal of the vampire is. He keeps notebooks of information on vampires and, last but not least, he carries a blade that he uses to slash people’s throats so he can drink their blood. His life changes when he meets Sophie, a young orphan girl who lives with her abusive grandfather and cuts herself with a razor blade to deal with her emotional pain. They strike up a fast, if awkward, friendship which quickly turns to a budding romance. Will it end in heartbreak?

I absolutely loved The Transfiguration and it’s likely to become one of my favorite films this year. The movie’s entire weight is carried on the backs of its leads. If their performances didn’t work, the film would have been a failure. Luckily, the actors both do a great job, especially Eric Ruffin’s nuanced performance as Milo. Milo starts the film as a loner with no one to care about. He shows no emotion other than when he feeds, where he is intense and terrifying. Over the course of the movie, due to his connection to Sophie, he starts to experience more emotion. He interacts with his brother more and starts to fall in love for the first time. He gradually becomes a sympathetic character that we want to see make it through.

Chloe Levin blew me away with her performance as Sophie. She forges a connection with this weird, vampire-obsessed boy. It’s fairly obvious that she feels for him and eventually comes to love him, even though he scares her. She doesn’t abandon him and he becomes a better person because of her influence. The relationship between the two is the high point of the movie. I loved it and I wanted to see them pull through the obstacles that were thrown in their paths. The ending absolutely crushed me, but I feel it was literally the only way the film could have ended.

Final Thoughts

The Transfiguration is one of the best films I’ve seen this year, horror or otherwise. The movie is anchored by amazing performances by its talented young leads, completely pulling me in. The film is a gritty, disturbing and slightly depressing look at how mental trauma effects people filtered through a horror lens. I highly recommend you check out The Transfiguration, which is now streaming on Netflix.

About Charlie Cargile

Central Illinois based film journalist. Lover of cinema of all varieties but in love with films with an independent spirit. Elder Emo. Cat Dad. Metalhead.

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