Roxy Shih‘s (Dark/Web, The Tribe) new dramatic thriller Painkillers premiered last week at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFFF). Along with the film, which is written by Giles Daoust and being produced collaboratively by Title Media and Lone Suspect, the first set of stills have been released, giving us a peep at the footage.
The film’s synopsis details:
“After a terrible car crash in which his son dies, brilliant surgeon John Clarke, tormented by guilt, becomes prey to an unbearable physical pain. While his marriage starts disintegrating, John soon finds out that the only thing that can ease his pain is the taste of human blood. When he encounters Herb Morris, a man who claims he can help him get his life back, John embarks upon a nightmarish journey through which he will either have to come to terms with his pain… or become a monster.”
Painkillers stars Adam Huss (Power) as John Clarke, alongside Mischa Barton (Sixth Sense, Homecoming), Madeline Zima (Californication, Twin Peaks), Grant Bowler (Defiance, True Blood), Debra Wilson (Mad TV) and Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story).
Luke Barnett (Fear, Inc.) and Vincent Masciale are producing under Lone Suspect, with Daoust and Catherine Dumonceaux on the Title Media side of things. This is the second time the two companies have joined forces, as they also partnered on the horror comedy Fear, Inc. Mike Macari (The Ring) and Alain Berliner (My Life in Pink) will executive produce.
Taiwanese-American director Shih has already worked on several acclaimed films and is no stranger to the festival circuit. Her projects have appeared at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, Toronto Independent, SXSW and Dances with Films. Her first feature film, The Tribe, about thee sisters dealing with the aftermath of a pandemic, was a critical success and picked up several awards. Shih also recently directed Season 1 of the dark sci-fi anthology series Dark/Web, which explores the dangers of a totally connected society.
Based on her previous work and Painkillers, Shih is clearly at home with darker subject matter. Judging from the stills and synopsis, Painkillers is going to be a harrowing affair.
However this isn’t the only “person drinks blood film” out there at the moment. This is a theme that’s popped up in several current films. The 2017 film Raw centred around a girl’s sudden insatiable hunger for human flesh, and the upcoming Family Blood is about a mother-turned-vampire struggling to deal with her newfound bloodlust.
For whatever reason, this is a growing trend in horror movies lately and Painkillers‘ grief-centred plot looks like it’s going to take the concept in an interesting direction.