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Overlook 2024: Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person Review

April 5, 2024 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person Image Credit: Drafthouse Films
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Overlook 2024: Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person Review  

Directed by: Ariane Louis-Seize
Written by: Ariane Louis-Seize & Christine Doyon

Sara Montpetit – Sasha
Félix-Antoine Bénard – Paul
Steve Laplante – Father
Sophie Cadieux – Mother
Noémie O’Farrell – Denise
Marie Brassard – Aunt
Madeleine Péloquin – Sandrine
Marc Beaupré – Rico
Ariane Castellanos – Claudie

Image Credit: Dratfhouse Films

Running Time: 92 minutes
Not Rated

Horror and coming of age stories go hand in hand. Monsters have always made apt allegories for the trials of growing up and going through changes and whether it’s Ginger Snaps, Carrie, Jennifer’s Body or The Craft, teen girls have been particularly apt subjects for telling these kinds of stories with a supernatural wrap.

It’s a little surprising that there aren’t more of these stories centered around vampires, to be honest. Fortunately, the delightfully named Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person is here to help fill that niche. Ariane Louis-Seize’s French-language film, which screens at the Overlook Film Festival this weekend, will surely draw comparisons to Beetlejuice and What We Do In the Shadows but deserves to stand on its own two undead feet as a charming mix of coming-of-age drama, light horror, and vampire rom-com.

Humanist Vampire stars Sara Montpetit as Sasha, a teenage vampire living with her mom (Félix-Antoine Bénard) and dad (Steve Laplante) in Montreal. The whole family are vampires, living fairly normal lives except for their need to feed on human blood. But Sasha is different – instead of hunger, she has a physiological instinct to feel compassion when she sees human suffering.

While that may be normal for (most) humans, it’s a severe detriment for the undead. Avoiding the hunt, Sasha is content to play her keyboard for locals and sip blood bags from her parents’ fridge. But when things go too far, she’s sent to live with her cousin Denise who will help her learn how to hunt and kill.

Cut off from her blood supply, Sasha finds herself falling into depression. That leads her to Paul (Félix-Antoine Bénard), a teenage boy who is bullied relentlessly and experiences suicidal ideation. When he realizes what Sasha is, he offers to give her his life. Sasha reluctantly agrees but decides to help Paul fulfill his last wishes in exchange. As their friendship grows over the night, Sasha begins to open up – but also finds it increasingly hard to consummate the deal.

While there are obvious comparisons to be made to other coming-of-age films and other horror comedies, Humanist Vampire dances to its own beat. Louis-Seize has done some of the requisite world-building you need for a vampire film, establishing her own take on few of the rules such as human food being fatal to vampires and the creatures of the night as a family unit.

But this isn’t the kind of film where the greater rules of vampirism are important beyond how they service the characters. Instead, it’s about taking Sasha and establishing her as vampiric equivalent of teenage growing pains, feeling like you don’t belong anywhere. At its heart, this is one of the most quintessential teenage stories: two outsiders in their own right finding a connection with each other and navigating the end of adolescence together.

That being the case, it falls upon the two leads to deliver and they prove themselves up to the task. Montpetit and Bénard strike up a natural chemistry with each other that makes their budding friendship sweet and charming. They’re both lonely, hurt people in different ways; Sasha fears death as much as Paul fears living, a dichotomy that Montpetit and Bénard embody and connect to each other with quite nicely.

While there’s a lot of brooding between these two morose leads, Louis-Seize balances it out with humor quite well. While Seize and Christine Doyon’s script isn’t full of belly laughs, it is consistently amusing in how it plays the domestication of this vampire family.

It’s also poignantly adept at laying out Sasha’s struggles as metaphor for those difficult teen years. Seeing the young vampire pulling food from the fridge as she broods around the house is eminently relatable, and her awkward efforts to become an adult (albeit one with fangs) feels wholly authentic. And the first time she brings Paul home, a first date of sorts that sees them dance to Brenda Lee’s “Emotions” out of her vinyl collection, captures the essence of that first date nervous glow energy most of us have felt.

There isn’t a lot that will be surprising here to anyone that has seen a few coming-of-age stories or vampire comedies. Those expecting a bloody time may also be disappointed. But the film isn’t here to shock or swerve; it’s trying to tell a story about growing up and finding out who you are. Humanist Vampire takes a concept that had a lot of minefields (it’s hard to make a comedy about suicide work) and navigates them well, making for a film that if properly discovered has real potential to become an indie teen classic.

The Overlook Film Festival takes place in New Orleans from April 4th through the 7th.

The final score: review Good
The 411
A sweet and charming coming-of-age tale slipped inside a vampire comedy, Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person carries shades of beloved films like Beetlejuice and even a bit of Heathers, but stands distinctly as its own thing. Centered around a couple of great performances by Sara Montpetit and Félix-Antoine Bénard, there's a lot of heart and relatability invested in the story that gives it the potential to be an indie cult favorite.