The Transfiguration is a different kind of vampire movie. But then it’s not really a vampire movie because we don’t have any of the undead who cannot stand the sun and are killed with a stake. Rather we have a disturbed teen who is obsessed with vampires and sees the world as a place where vampires should exist.
Milo (Eric Ruffin) is a loner who is fascinated by all things to do with vampires. He lives in a crime-ridden projects area. His parents are dead and he lives with his older brother. For Milo vampires represent power in his powerless world. He is obsessed with wildlife videos of animals killing and eating their pray. And, we learn soon, Milo acts out his vampire fixation by killing people and feeding on their blood.
Then he meets Sophie (Chloe Levine), a white teen who also lives in the projects with her grandfather. These two young people tentatively establish a relationship. For Sophie, vampires are what she knows from the Twilight series. She views it all with a bit of romanticism. But Milo has a much darker view of vampires and of life. A key discussion between them has to do with whether a vampire could commit suicide. The issues of power and eternal life create conflicts in how Milo sees vampires—and himself.
This is not the kind of film where two different people show each other new ways of dealing with the world and everything becomes sunny. That of course would be one of Sophie’s stories. Rather this film has a nihilist bent. Milo has faced difficult times in his life. Perhaps his focus on vampires grows out of his need to feel power. Certainly vampires are often used to represent being an outsider. Even though he seeks to act like a vampire, he is also troubled by what he does. This inevitably leads to an ending that is as dark as Milo’s own view of life.
Because the film’s central character is African American, it adds an additional level of powerlessness onto Milo’s life. We see others in the film who seek power through gang activity. To them Milo is a “freak”. Yet in many ways they have more in common than we might suspect. Both are seeking a way to live in a world that they see having no hope of anything better. Both survive through preying on others. And in the end they are doomed through the choices they make.
Photos courtesy of Strand Releasing