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TIFF 2023 Review: Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person – “A welcome debut from a director with a unique voice.”

Courtesy of TIFF

There can be a lot at ‘stake’ trying to breathe new life into the vampire genre, but all kidding aside, Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person does just that.

From the very opening of the film, the tone is set.  A young girl is celebrating her birthday with her family.  She’s gifted a keyboard and is seemingly a prodigy despite never having played before.  “Maybe it’s in her blood,” her father remarks with affection. Yet, it’s when her second gift arrives at the door where things really take off.  “A clown!” the young girl exclaims.  But while she’s happy for the entertainment, her family is hoping she’ll finally sport the fangs they’ve been waiting for and make him the party’s main course.

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Fast forward to a seemingly teenage Sasha (Sara Montpetit).  While it has been many years more than her external appearance would have you believe, she still has yet to take a bite.  Her fangs have yet to come in.  They don’t make the usual appearance when she is hungry or frightened.  It turns out she cares too much.  She has too much empathy for humans.  She’s a vampire who doesn’t want to kill, instead surviving on bags of blood that her parents provide.  But, after decades of dealing with Sasha’s lack of killer instinct, they’re kind of done.

Sasha’s supply is cut off.  Sent to live with her cousin who promises not to give her a drop of blood, Sasha gets hungry.  Yet, her problem might be solved when she comes across Paul (Félix-Antoine Bénard), an actual teenager who cannot see any joy in life, and is thinking of ending things.  The two make an arrangement for Paul to become Sasha’s first meal, fixing two problems all at the same time, with Sasha’s fangs finally visible with their emotional connection.  But, those emotions have a flip side, and after spending time together, it becomes a question as to whether Sasha can follow through or if her empathy will cost her everything.

This comedic tale is the feature debut of director Ariane Louis-Seize (co-writing with Christine Doyon), and what a fun, charming and quirky debut it is.  There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to be had, and while this would be considered a horror-comedy most of the screams happen off-screen as Sasha’s family members feed without her.  This is a vampire tale available to everyone, even if you are a bit squeamish.

Louis-Seize seems able to find a good and consistent balance in tone and maintains that throughout.  While the story itself dictates that the film takes place almost exclusively at night, Humanist Vampire feels light, both figuratively and literally (visually the lighting is happily on point despite the darkness) and yet, not without consequence.  Both Sasha and Paul are displaced, disconnected from their respective peers and family; Louis-Seize explores this using the genre to find new and different ways to highlight common themes.

However, most of the charm in Humanist Vampire comes from its young leads.  As Sasha, Montpetit is all at once a lost ‘teenager’, yet often menacing in her presence, even if her threat is moot.  Bénard then, wide-eyed and seemingly terrified of the world in every scene, is perfectly cast as her opposite.  They are a pair that yearns for similar yet seemingly impossible things – she wants to be able to go on existing without causing pain, and he wishes to exist without feeling it, or not at all.

Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person is a welcome debut from a director with a unique voice, who isn’t afraid to think outside the box.  It’s about finding connection, sure, but also about finding your own path, even if it may be unconventional. We will be lucky for Ariane Louis-Seize to continue forging her own original path, if we get more cinematic gems like this one.

Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.  Its North American premiere was at the Toronto International Film Festival September 10th, with additional screenings to follow.  For more information please go to

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