Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person Review

The Unique Ethical Dilemma of a Humanist Vampire

At some point, it happens to almost everyone who’s ever eaten meat: You watch a documentary, read an article, or hear a story from a friend and suddenly feel awful about all the once-living creatures you’ve consumed. Some become vegans or vegetarians, others decide to live with the guilt. But no one faced with this moral dilemma has ever died as a result of not eating meat – which puts Sasha (Sara Montpetit), the central character of Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person, in an ethical category all her own.

You see, this is because Sasha isn’t your average person. She’s a vampire who, at the young age of 68, is kicked out of her home by parents who can no longer indulge in their daughter’s refusal to kill humans for sustenance. The amusingly self-explanatory title of Ariane Louis-Seize’s feature debut tells you exactly how Sasha overcomes this obstacle: without the neatly packaged blood bags her mother and father provide her every week, Sasha resorts to only eating those who no longer want to live, with Paul (Félix-Antoine Bénard) being the first subject in her clever experiment.

Exploring Human Woes with a Gentle Touch

The magic of Louis-Seize’s inventive premise is that it effectively encompasses a series of human woes without feeling overstuffed: feeling like an outsider in your own family, reconciling our morals with the demands of everyday life, and suicidal ideation and feelings of self-harm. For a story that broaches such heavy subjects, Humanist Vampire plays with the light hand of kindness. It’s a gentleness extended not only towards the duo of misfits at the center of the story but also those who surround them, with the director giving both Paul and Sasha loving, nurturing families – even when they’re forced to push their struggling children out of the nest.

A Cozy Vampire Tale with Rich Details

Not only does Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person manage to broach a series of tricky existential questions in just over an hour and a half, but it does so without having to sacrifice its genre elements or its sense of place. A well-constructed opening vignette shows us all we need to know about the ins and outs of this particular family of Canadian vampires: In this short span of time, we get a grasp on the dynamics between the parents and their only child, their hunting routine, and how they manage to blend in in this quiet-looking neighborhood in Quebec. Great costume and production design give this vampire tale a cozy, lived-in feel. It’s a contained little world of whimsy and richness of detail, where a bright blue, glittery tie hugs a wooden trunk decorated with little stars, ruffled collars and busy patterns peek out from under brown woolly vests, and table lamps with fanciful attachments help bright a little light into this comfortable darkness.

A Journey of Self-Discovery and Morality

Sasha and Paul, although somewhat constrained by the specifics of their arrangement, are fully formed characters. That’s thanks in part to a dynamic script by Louis-Seize and Christine Doyon, which finds breathing room within the urgency faced by a weakening vampire tasked with making dinner out of her unexpected, nihilistic companion. Riddled with guilt and wanting to delay the inevitable, Sasha sets out to give Paul a glimpse of the joys and pleasures of life before ushering him into death. Their journey begins in front of a record player spinning Brenda Lee’s “Emotions,” where they listen to the singer wistfully begging her feelings to subside. “Emotions, please set me free,” the song cuts through the room as Sasha slowly moves her hands to the beat. “Emotions, you get me upset,” Lee goes, as Sasha looks at Paul dancing next to her, all too aware of what is meant to happen the moment the song comes to an end. It’s a beautiful sequence that aptly encapsulates Louis-Seize’s portrayal of youth as a minefield of feeling – one that’s inescapable on your own, but a bit easier to navigate with a partner.

Those moments, at once lovely and sorrowful, are interspersed with welcome bursts of light humor. This combination makes for a vampire film that’s less concerned with fangs cutting through skin and blood filling the cracks of hardwood floors than it is with the Big Questions of existing in a world that denies you the chance of living by a well-oiled moral compass. In this, Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person signals Louis-Seize as a talent to watch. She’s a director whose first feature unravels with the playfulness of a debut and the refined rhythms of a filmmaker who understands exactly what they want to say and then goes on and says it.