Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person has bite and heart

A film for the weirdos with compelling performances from its young leads.
Humanist Vampire via Drafthouse Films
Humanist Vampire via Drafthouse Films /

Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person has the potential to become a popular cult movie. The horror comedy/coming-of-age flick should resonate with the misfits who want, more than anything, to find a friend. Yes, this is one of those types of films. Though it doesn't really say anything new, it's still one heck of an entertaining ride with plenty of bite, laughs, and touching moments.

Directed by Ariane Louis-Seize, who penned the script with Christine Doyan, the French-Canadian feature stars Sara Montpetit as Sasha. She's a vampire, a vampire who doesn't want to kill because she's just too sensitive. In fact, during the rip-roaring opening, Sasha's parents trap a magician in a trunk and urge Sasha to feed during her birthday. She's just a kid at the time and refuses. When they run a series of tests, including one that has her watch Night of the Living Dead, she squirms and protests the violence.

After that opening, Sasha is all grown up, and her parents, played by Sophie Cadieux and Steve Laplante, disown her because she refuses to feed on humans and instead, sips her blood from a straw like an adult still drinking juice boxes. Mom and dad have simply had enough and send her to live with the ever-bloodthirsty Denise (Noémie O'Farrell), Sasha's cousin.

The contrast between these characters adds to the laughs. Denise, always eager for the next meal, has no qualms about killing, while Sasha remains reserved and hesitant. However, because her family cuts off the blood supply, she has to murder and starts attending meetings for those on the cusp of suicide. It's there where she meets teenager Paul (Félix-Antoine Bénard).

This is very much Sasha and Paul's movie, and it's a heck of a lot of fun watching their relationship blossom, coupled with Sasha's conflict of needing to feed, lest her family completly ditch her. Like Sasha, Paul is an outcast and on the cusp of jumping off a building when Sasha first encounters him. Yet, through each other, they grow more comfortable with their identity and take refuge in the bonds of friendship that they forge. Near the halfway point, there's one especially endearing scene when Sasha puts on a record, starts lip-synching to it, and urges Paul to dance. It's simply a moving sequence, a moment when two outcasts find each other.

Anaëlle Béglet, Jeanne-Marie Poulain, Line Sander Egede, Ariane Louis-Seize, Irène Bessone
2023 Toronto International Film Festival - "Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person" / Brian de Rivera Simon/GettyImages

Some of this film's influences are quite clear. The relationship between Sasha and Paul resembles that of Eli and Oskar in Let the Right One In. Unlike, Eli, however, who has no reservations about killing when she needs to, or to save Oskar from bullies who nearly drown him, Sasha is far shier about her power and even struggles flashing her fangs. Still, the relationship between Eli and Oskar and Paul and Sasha isn't all that dissimilar. I was also reminded of other films like Ghost World, and, to a lesser extent, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. In regard to the later, both films have hipster vampires.

Yet, while some of the influences may be obvious, and while the film doesn't necessarily say anything new, this also very much feels like Louis-Seize's feature, rich in character development and a coming-of-age story with dashes of horror and dark humor. She's a director to watch. Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person is a film for the weirdos with compelling performances from its young leads.

Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person opens in NYC and LA theaters on June 21 with a wider rollout to follow.

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