Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person review — More sweet than subversive

A capsule version of this review appeared on FITI during my coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2023.

Directed by Ariane Louis-Seize | Written by Louis-Seize and Christine Doyon | 90 min | ▲▲▲△△ |  VOD and Digital Platforms

This is a timely reminder that Canadian cinema can do genre mash-ups and do them well, with a Quebequois gothic vampire comedy romance that starts somewhere in the vicinity of The Addams Family before venturing toward Let The Right One In via John Hughes and Tim Burton, with a touch of Wes Anderson in the tableau framing and cinematography. It’s firmly hilarious, though down a very different alley from What We Do In The Shadows. 

Teen bloodsucker Sasha (Sara Montpetit) is actually 68. She’s struggling with her role in her vampire family — she’s got too much compassion for her prey and so her fangs won’t descend when it’s time to feed. Her parents let her live off their supply, but at some point she’s going to have leave this comfortable nest of the undead.

Paul (Félix-Antoine Bénard) is a bullied, suicidal high schooler who works at a bowling alley. When he and Sasha meet they awkwardly fall in love, convinced they can help each other with their problems. He’s not really a fan of life, and she needs to understand the pleasure of feeding on humans if she’s ever going to be considered a “normal, healthy” vampire.

This could be an analogy for a queer youth growing up in a repressive, heteronormative family, but your guess is as good as mine. Sometimes a bloodsucker is just a bloodsucker. What works best is the beautifully peculiar relationship between Paul and Sasha. Together they’re able to locate a comfort and  freedom missing from their peer groups and families.

Horror fans may find the delicate art house sensibility too far a cry from the transgression and gore usually splashing around in vampire pictures. Instead HVSCSP provides pleasures that are gently emo. It manages its tone perfectly, letting its young stars earn our affection.

About the author

flawintheiris

Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.

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