Sadly, the title of Ariane Louis-Seize’s debut feature tells you virtually everything you need to know about the film itself. The Quebecois horror-comedy Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person quickly establishes a premise and, apart from some notable subtleties of character, follows through on said premise in exactly the manner you’d expect. Coming as it does on the heels of about a decade of existential bloodsucker pictures, all dedicated in their various ways to convincing us that “vamps are people too,” Humanist Vampire brings very little new to the table.
Sasha (Sara Montpetit) is a “young” vampire (only 63 years old), and her family is concerned because her fangs haven’t come in. When a vampire neurologist subjects Sasha to a brain scan, he breaks the news to her parents. When confronted with blood and gore, Sasha’s empathy receptors are stimulated, not her primal urge to feed. Her dad (Steve Laplante) doesn’t want to push Sasha until she’s ready, but other family members — particularly her mom (Sophie Cadieux) and her cousin Denise (Noemie O’Farrell) — are less patient, and plan to starve Sasha until she is forced to feed. One night at a support group meeting, Sasha meets Paul (Felix-Antoine Benard), a depressive teen who is not only suicidal, but completely unemotional about it. The pair seem to be the answer to each other’s respective crises, but of course, complications arise.
In her attempts at vampire-based humor, Louis-Seize seems a bit influenced by What We Do in the Shadows, especially as it relates to the petty annoyances faced by the Dracula set. But in its rueful tone, Humanist Vampire owes perhaps more to Jim Jarmusch’s melancholy Only Lovers Left Alive. Sadly, this film is neither as funny as Waititi’s film, nor as poignant as Jarmusch’s. Instead, it speaks to the current condition of international film production. For funding’s sake, everything is a genre film now, and rather than expanding on the language of horror, Humanist Vampire merely hits its marks and fades away.
Published as part of Venice International Film Festival 2023: Dispatch 1.