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Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person – TIFF 2023 Film Review

3 min read

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This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn't exist.

A guilty pleasure founded on the base principles of morbid-intrigue from dedicated cinephiles — lengthy titles have been used as a bizarre marketing phenomenon since the beginning of the independent cinema scene. We can look at Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, Jonas Mekas' As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty, and Raúl Ruiz's The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting as pioneers of this peculiar cinematic movement. Some titles are arguably more favourable than others, with many cineastes opting for literality over allegorical interpretation. This year, we have three significant features with mouthful titles. Joanna Arnow's The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed, Radu Jude's Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World, and 's Humanist Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person. Especially with the latter film, there's a certain charm which radiates from its genre-confined premise. Ariane Louis-Seize's debut feature promises exactly what it advertises; an off-kilter dark comedy about an empathetic vampire and her plight for human connection. 

From a conceptual plane, Louis-Seize sets up her coming-of-age oddity with a perfectly arranged set of familiar motives. The film opens strong, relishing in its campy production design and absurdist comedy. The titular vampire's household bicker and banter, trouncing their latest kill. As the film expands its metaphorical fangs, Louis-Seize opens a greater window into the insular lives of the anthropoid prey; with varied results. The raw humanity at the emotional crux of Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person is regrettably absent. The implication of its anthropological deep-dive entails a distinct separation from known archetypal conventions. Instead, Louis-Seize employs tumblr-inspired tropes over compassionate verisimilitude. 

An inspired needle drop of Brenda Lee's Emotions sets the stage for a greater opportunity to examine the microcosmic anxieties of Generation Alpha. However, the narrative fangs fail to tear through the surface. Beneath the bloody exterior, Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person palpitates bare subtext. Discussions surrounding self-harm, suicidal ideation, and social alienation are briefly featured in its horror canvas of haphazard errors. The beat-by-beat three-act structure deters the film's thematic unconventionality. On occasion, some emotional footnotes are earned in fleeting moments of pivotal vulnerability. When specifically focused within maudlin discussions revolved around the working class, Louis-Seize shines a patient spotlight upon her cast of quirky characters. 

Steering the sails of Louis-Seize' tale of self-deprecating woe, Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person delivers a satisfying coming-of-age story brimming with potential. Although, something is still critically missing from its maximalist vision. The surface-level investigation of the film's powerful moral complexity diminishes the impact of the vampiric horror. A more comprehensive sequel is in order; another round of bloody humanism and daunting empathy portrayed in a refined continuation of Louis-Seize' ingenious premise.  

Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person screened at this year's  as part of the Centrepiece section. The film is currently seeking international distribution.