‘Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person’ finds compassion in the trenches of life

Quebecois film explores empathy in an unexpected way

Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person
Where: In theatres
What: Movie, 90 mins.
When: Now
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Rating: NNNN (out of 5)
Why you should watch: A thoughtful vampire movie that shows us the joy of companionship.

HOW DIFFERENT can another vampire movie be, you wonder? There’s the classic spooky Dracula, the silly Kiwi vampires of What We Do in The Shadows, and the infamously sparkly ones of Twilight. Quebec filmmaker/writer Ariane Louis-Seize’s version of a vampire, however, is the stereotypical but modern kind — the type that can’t go out in sunlight, has a much longer lifespan than humans, feeds on human blood to survive, and doesn’t live in castles. The main character Sasha (Sara Montpetit), though, is unlike her peers because she empathizes greatly with humans and refuses to kill them, even when it comes time for her to follow the rite of passage to become a proficient vampire.

Though her doting father (Steve Laplante) is considerate of Sasha’s boundaries, her mother (Sophie Cadieux) is more of a realist: if she is unwilling to hunt, how will she eat to live? After decades of her mother hunting on the family’s behalf, she decides that they won’t coddle Sasha any further and sends her to live with her cousin Denise (Noémie O’Farrell) to learn to cope on her own.

Here’s where the co-protagonist Paul (Félix-Antoine Bénard) comes in. Sasha meets him by chance one night, and though he is fearful when he catches sight of Sasha’s fangs, he sees it as an opportunity to end his miserable life. Hungry and without any other option, Sasha takes Paul on a spree to fulfill his dying wishes: confronting his high school bullies and saying goodbye to his mother.

This French language film is playful and sombre at times, giving space to the serious topic of mental health then showing us how the characters discover the joy in music and companionship, bonding over common interests despite their differences. The plot surprises you in funny ways just when you think it’s becoming predictable, and then it all ties in together pleasantly. At times it pulls back from the seriousness of its mental health focus with its absurdity and contrast of human vs. vampire life, reminding the audience that this is after all, an unrealistic movie about vampires. Though it is a great movie to watch for Halloween, it’s not particularly spooky if you’re looking for a scare.

Louis-Seize’s film can be interpreted as a poignant thought exercise on the value of life: your own and of the others around you. The thought exercise just happens to feature vampires as the main characters.

Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person finds humour and compassion in the trenches of life, where you might find that you’re not actually alone in feeling low. If you’re searching for meaning in life, there is always something good that you can do for the world — and for yourself — if you want to try to find it.