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‘Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person’ Review

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The unkillable vampire legend will get certainly one of its frequent cinematic resurrections (this Venice Movie Pageant alone boasted three extra: “El Conde” in competitors, “En Attendant la Nuit” in Horizons and “The Vourdalak” in Critics’ Week) with Québécois director Ariane Louis-Seize’s sweetly gothy Venice Days winner, a movie wittily — if too comprehensively — described by its title: “Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person.” The thought of a vampire who doesn’t wish to kill is hardly with out precedent. However Louis-Seize’s keen debut, deliberately or in any other case, performs to a comparatively vamp-starved demographic, offering continuity to youngsters who’ve lengthy outgrown the “Sesame Street” model, however are nonetheless a bit younger for the emo lustiness of the “Twilight” franchise. It’s extra fairy story than scary story. 

It’s, nevertheless, a high-quality showcase for the witchy charisma of star Sara Montpetit who, after taking part in the doom-fixated object of a primary crush in Charlotte Le Bon’s terrific “Falcon Lake,” appears hellbent on cornering the market in gloomy Francophone youngsters navigating an entree into maturity during which intercourse and dying are intertwined. Solely right here as Sasha, the 62-year-old vampire who presents as a teenage lady, she will not be solely death-obsessed however truly undead, and has been, it’s implied, since delivery. 

Sasha has at all times been totally different from her blithely bloodsucking kinfolk. On her birthday, little Sasha (Lilas-Rose Cantin) is being entertained by a celebration clown, solely to quail when it turns into clear that the person within the wig and the purple nostril is there to be each dinner and a present. Some years later, Sasha (Montpetit) has by no means developed fangs and survives on the largesse of her doting father (Steve LaPlante) and fewer indulgent mom (Sophie Cadieux). They inventory the fridge with baggies of blood drained from their kills, which Sara sucks down like Capri-Solar. 

At night time she mopes round Montreal, which is right here a type of Buffyverse the place unusual individuals are ostensibly unaware of the undead menace, however don’t appear terribly shocked after they encounter it. On certainly one of these nocturnal recces, she sees Paul (Félix-Antoine Bénard) perched on the roof of the bowling alley the place he works, considering leaping. Paul is a troubled, delicate high-schooler whose loving however distracted mom is unaware that he’s the goal of every day bullying. And although, this night time, he decides to come back down off the roof the good distance, he has the look of somebody suspending somewhat than cancelling. Sasha is intrigued. The following time she sees him, he sees her too, and is startled sufficient to run right into a wall, drawing blood. Sasha feels her fangs break by way of her gums and flees.

Discovering that she’s now outfitted to do her personal murdering, her dad and mom minimize off her blood provide, sending Sasha to dwell together with her cousin Denise (Noémie O’Farrell) a snarling redhead with as few qualms about killing as Sasha has kills. However the connection that Sasha and Paul have fashioned suggests a special, extra mutually fascinating manner out — if solely emotions don’t get in the way in which. When Sasha affords keen sufferer Paul a reprieve of 1 final night time, to spend collectively avenging all of the wrongs towards him, it’s clear she’s in search of a method to postpone the deed. As a result of she like, like likes him. 

Louis-Seize’s eye for type and Shawn Pavlin’s darkly aromatic cinematography lend a graphic-novel coolness to “Humanist Vampire,” particularly within the tightly framed two-shots or the heroizing stances that Sasha is caught in, standing atop delivery containers together with her bolt of silken hair twitching up on the suggestions like irritated-cat tails. However it’s also barely wasteful how Louis-Seize and co-writer Christine Doyon’s schematic screenplay takes a delusion as rooted in kink because the vampire legend and scrupulously, chastely unkinks it, delivering little gore and a romance largely confined to burning glances and hesitant hand-holding.

That’s to not counsel there isn’t any ethical iffiness right here. There’s the oddly absolutist concept that as a result of the primary man Sasha truly kills is a nasty fellow, the ethical injunction towards murdering him is lifted. And the notion of consent within the suicidal isn’t carefully investigated both: there’s no dialogue of whether or not a depressive psychological state would possibly render such “consent” doubtful, to not point out all these potential suicides who needs to be helped in off the ledge, somewhat than proven a extra handy method to leap. 

However “Humanist Vampire” doesn’t need us to suppose too deeply, and goals largely to allure. Largely it succeeds, which is its personal type of critique on this post-“Titane” and “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” period, when some viewers would possibly count on provocation or transgression from their horror archetypes. “Humanist Vampire” is unhealthy information for them, however as a good-natured, dark-tinged, teen-rom-com dressed up in a classy Halloween costume, it’s excellent news for “Wednesday” followers, and any others who need Nosferatu to be extra awww than aaaargh.

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