Review by Sean Boelman
Sometimes, all it takes is an absolutely killer title to hook cinephiles, and there’s hardly been a better one this year than Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person. Ariane Louis-Seize’s feature debut is as quirky as the title would imply, offering a charming blend of deadpan comedy and poignant insight that is virtually impossible not to love.
The movie follows a young vampire who refuses to kill for moral reasons, as she befriends a lonely, suicidal teenager in the hopes of (ethically) killing him when she is cut off by her parents, only for them to discover something about each other in the process. It’s a lovely little coming-of-age story with a cool premise, and while it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it has enough humor and heart to win over viewers.
Admittedly, the film is a bit on the nose with what it has to say. Yet, the movie’s messages about finding the light in a time of hopelessness and sticking true to what one believes in despite the pressure from society around them are still resonant and meaningful. By the end, it can feel a bit like nicecore that doesn’t really engage with feelings of depression in a substantial way, but its warm-hearted approach is still effective.
These themes lend themselves nicely to the film’s deadpan sense of humor. If the title wasn’t indication enough, the movie is incredibly quirky. Although there are some occasional low hanging fruit jokes — namely the socially awkward protagonists getting wrapped up in uncomfortable yet comedic situations — many of the jokes also come from the poignant, sharp insights that the film has to offer.
However, the area in which this movie succeeds the most is in being extraordinarily endearing. Louis-Seize and co-writer Christine Doyon manage to give us two characters that, despite conventional and familiar arcs, are incredibly charming. Even more impressive is the fact that the film manages to never feel like it is ridiculing or pitying the characters, instead bringing the audience to their level in a way that feels completely authentic and refreshingly nonjudgmental.
It definitely helps that the two leads — Sara Montpetit and Félix-Antoine Bénard — are both amazing. The two have excellent chemistry together, but not in a way that feels romantic or sexual whatsoever. They’re just two people who share an overwhelming anxiety about where they fit in in the world, which will be incredibly relatable to many audience members.
Stylistically, the movie is about as one would expect from a quirky indie. The soundtrack is probably the biggest highlight of Louis-Seize’s vision, creating an atmosphere that is equal parts contemplative and energetic. There are also a few sequences that have a bit of an exploitation-inspired flare, although these are inconsistently spread throughout the film at best.
Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person isn’t a grounbreaking movie, but it’s a satisfying feel-good indie comedy. It’s the type of movie that is likely to resonate a lot with younger audiences, which could make it a candidate to become a cult classic in the future.
Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person premiered at the 2023 Venice Film Festival in the Giornate degli Autori section.