An excitingly new and instant classic vampire film premiered at TIFF, hitting theatres on October 13th. Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person is a triumph from writer/director Ariane Louis-Seize and co-writer Christine Doyon. Their bloody and brilliant French film is funny, inspired, referential and dark.
Starring fresh faces Sara Montpetit and Félix-Antoine Bénard, Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person tickles a very niche appetite for vampire film aficionados while also drawing in a wide range of film lovers alike with Ariane Louis-Seize’s clever stylistic choices for lighting, set, sound, costumes… There’s never a dull moment in this visually dynamic film.
Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person follows Sasha (Sara Montpetit), a young vampire who has yet to stick her teeth into a victim. Sasha suffers from extremely rare PTSD, which triggers empathetic emotional responses when humans are in pain or fear. As you may imagine, this is inconvenient for her and her vampire family. One day, Sasha meets Paul (Félix-Antoine Bénard), a suicidal teenager. Together, they go on an adventure of his last wishes before he willingly submits to being her first victim.
Some might say that the film’s concept and darker topics are perplexing due to the comedic tone with which they’re dealt. However, Félix-Antoine Bénard doesn’t quite agree, “It wasn’t conflicting because [Paul] doesn’t know he’s funny, and he’s in the middle of being sad and happy. […] He’s alone and analysing everything he’s living. He doesn’t feel he belongs in this world. So he thinks the reason is because I need to die to have meaning to [his] life.” And Ariane jumped in to add that Paul feels more of a fascination with death, an obsession, rather than a direct desire to stop living.
This unique perspective makes Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person a feast for meaning and entertainment. The final solution to Sasha and Paul’s predicament is controversial but beautifully portrayed and dealt with care.
Fantasy films often have some kind of metaphor they’re trying to communicate, a lesson only accessible to their audience through out-of-world similes. Contrasting this method, Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person addresses this issue head-on and not for any particular reason. Still, Christine Doyon and Ariane Louis-Seize’s creation is a fun diversion from reality with subtle questions of “what if?”
There is so much to unpack from the world-building of this supernatural story from an independent studio. Under Ariane Louis-Seize’s direction, the family of vampires have a particular framework for moving. Louis-Seize describes this as a collaboration between herself and the actors about how the vampires live forever and, therefore, the concept of time is warped; thus, their pace of movement is irregular. Together, this cast of vampires creates a uniform understanding of the vampiric species of this world. However, it is also awe-inspiring that this unison is maintained while simultaneously, each actor’s characterisation is so individual and distinct from the pack.
Some of this is, of course, due to the ingenuity of actors Noémie O’Farrell, Marie Brassard, Steve Laplante and Sophie Cadieux. As Ariane Louis-Seize also describes these vampires having each chosen a period they are most drawn to and choose to embody. Most notably, Noémie O’Farrell, who plays Sasha’s cousin Denise, is given a 70s cool girl vibe, and her personality is blunt, flirtatious and artistic. These details give Sasha’s world depth, and we, the audience, are sucked into this bizarre universe.
Taking plenty of inspiration from European and older vampire films, co-writers Christine Doyon and Ariane Louis-Seize have created a delicious movie, and I’m dying to see how they collaborate next.