TIFF 2023 | Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person (Ariane Louis-Seize, Canada) — Centrepiece

By Adam Nayman

Meat is murder, moaned Morrissey, and teenaged keyboardist Sasha (Sara Montpetit) looks every inch a millennial Smiths fan—wry, pale, and vibrating with evident disdain (if not disgust) for her middle-class clan’s carnivorous ways. With a less declarative title, Gatineau-born director Ariane Louise-Seize’s debut might have had fun more methodically teasing out the parallels between classic vampirism and adolescent idealism (both of which confer a certain sense of moral superiority) or at least generated a modicum of queasy horror out of recontextualized horror tropes a la George Romero’s Martin (1978). (Night of the Living Dead [1968] is excerpted in passing). Instead, from its annoyingly broad prologue onwards, it settles for a distinctly cutesy form of genre pastiche, taking what’s basically a YA premise—one not too far removed from Bones and All (2022), to say nothing of Let the Right One Inˆ(2006)—and yoking it to a carefully curated mall-goth aesthetic. Basically, this is a decent, if predictable, short comedy rattling around in a luxuriously textured feature-length container (the velvety cinematography is by Stephane Lafleur), and what keeps it from getting deadly in the home stretch is the combined finesse of its actors, including Montpetit, who’s got a sublimated intensity that’s far richer than what’s written in the script, and able deadpan clowns like Steve Laplante and Marie Brassard, both seen recently in Lafleur’s Viking (2022).

anayman@cinema-scope.com Nayman Adam