Review: Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person Is Part Teen Coming-of-Age Drama, Part Vampire Lore

Sometimes when you can’t watch a French movie, a French-Canadian movie works just as nicely. Case in point: this sweet dark comedy about a “teen” vampire (she’s actually 68) named Sasha (the charming Lilas-Rose Cantin, giving off young Winona Ryder vibes), living in Quebec. Sasha is a disappointment to her parents (Steve Laplante and Sophie Cadieux) because she has such compassion for humans that she can’t stomach the thought of killing one, even if it means she won’t be able to feed (her fangs haven’t even sprouted yet). Her mother supplies the family by stealing from blood banks, but realizing this trend could last hundreds of years, Sasha’s parents kick her out and cut off her supply, hoping this will force her to finally start hunting amongst the living. Sasha eventually goes to live with her older cousin and fierce human predator Denise (Noémie O’Farrell), but even that doesn’t get Sasha to change her tune.

Then one night, Sasha spots teen boy Paul (Félix-Antoine Bénard) on the roof of the bowling alley where he works, as he contemplates killing himself as a relief from being constantly bullied by seemingly everyone at his school, including primary bully Henry (Arnaud Vachon), who also works at the same place. Something about seeing someone willing to die gets Sasha excited about the possibilities, and she goes to Paul with the suggestion that would benefit both of them—thus the film’s title, Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person. But true to form in so many teen-oriented movies, Paul and Sasha start to fall for each other, and she does everything in her power to delay finally killing him, including offering him a final wish: he wants to rip his bullies a collective new one, and so Sasha goes from tormentor to tormentor, terrorizing them one by one.

Humanist Vampire is a charming and funny coming-of-age story, with an extra shot of having a character whose driving force is empathy. When does that ever happen? Director/co-writer Ariane Louis-Seize (who scripted with Christine Doyon) has a subtle touch for creating characters who reach our heart even when they're talking about death and bloodsucking. The film has elements from Let the Right One In and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, but with a heartwarming tinge over everything. It’s a unique take on several vampire movie tropes, and I hope the filmmaker continues making films that examine the familiar through a new lens, because she has a true gift for coming at such stories from a unique perspective, and this one is well worth seeking out.

The film is playing exclusively at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine. He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.