Vampires are perceived mostly as bloodsucking social pariahs. They are often considered not human enough to be worthy of our empathy – because their whole existence relies on taking human lives. Since death and love do not go hand in hand, these creatures are left with sucking the life out of others. Sasha (played by Sara Montpetit), born in a family of vampires, sees things differently. She finds the thought of killing humans repulsive. The teenager hates the idea that her life revolves around it. ‘Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person’ (Vampire humaniste cherche suicidaire consentant) is a romance drama that follows her life’s struggle.
Directed by Ariane Louis-Seize, this French-language film is essentially a coming-of-age tale of a girl trying to live up to the expectations of her guardians. They hope she starts hunting humans – making them fall prey to her as they do. Sasha also struggles to make them understand that she does not want to kill people. It hits home because of the similar parental expectations we all must have faced in different parts of our lives. While dealing with this pressure, she happens to meet Paul (played by Félix-Antoine Bénard) – a loner with suicidal thoughts. So, she assumes that killing him would mean she would respect his wishes and those of her parents. Thus, the title!
However, the conflict begins when they both start to know each other on a deeper level. She also brings him, i.e., a human, to their house, which raises obvious questions. Is she finally ready to break her dry spell and kill someone? Will she be able to truly prove her worth as a vampire? While her family members dwell upon it, she starts getting increasingly closer to this lonely kid, who happens to be about her age. Through their interactions, they start to realize how similar they are. So, they find comfort in each other and their common, morbid thoughts. Their journey further follows the shifting dynamic toward life and death. They tackle the dilemma between suicide and life-acceptance together.
As a result, despite being a film dealing with dark themes, it becomes incredibly heartwarming. The direction brings out a fine balance between the playful and macabre. Thanks to Christine Doyon & Ariane Louis-Seize’s wonderful screenplay, Sasha’s outwardly emotionless vampire is drawn with rich inner life. Sara Montpetit’s performance switches from deadpan to sentimental within seconds and with an uncommon ease. Besides the aspect of parental expectations, the reason this film resonates is because of its compassionate approach while chalking out the points in the life of this introverted soul.
Sasha’s adorable fixation with the ‘consenting suicidal person’ is enough to make several other romance tales pale in comparison. Despite following a number of coming-of-age genre beats, the film feels refreshing and endlessly charming. It strangely feels like a crossover between Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive – without letting it seem like an imitation of either.
You will find the same quirkiness as Wes’s works despite the film’s predominantly dark color palette. Although not as swoon-worthy as the Jarmusch film, Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person presents a similar stylistic treat, with a disarming story of attraction at its center. They also emerge as heartwarming companions in each other’s largely secluded lives.
When it comes to the stories of vampires, there are certain expectations about their appearance or the kind of romance they will have with one another. Shows like Reginald the Vampire tried to break the stereotypes of appearance-related assumptions and to subvert how we look at these limitations set upon by the world. So, in a way, it could translate as a story of standing up against societal pressures. What We Do in the Shadows showed a similar character to Sasha’s in Guillermo – in terms of their humanity. Guillermo always dreamt of being a vampire – to shatter the racial and appearance-based expectations.
Sasha’s character blends the same desire in an adolescent’s journey, which proves to be highly lucrative in terms of its emotional impact. It ends up being thoroughly evocative since we all struggle with similar conflicts at that age in our lives – which has to do with choosing a specific way of life or questioning your parents’ belief system. Overall, Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person empathetically handles those anxieties and keeps us captivated.
Read More: Vincent Must Die (2023) Movie Review: A Delirious, Wickedly Funny Ride that Does Justice to Its Wild Premise
Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person was screened at the JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2023.
Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person (2023) Trailer
Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person (2023) Movie Cast: Sara Montpetit, Félix-Antoine Bénard, Steve Laplante, Sophie Cadieux, Noémie O’Farrell, Lilas-Rose Cantin, Marie Brassard