“Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person”. A funny horror with a deeper meaning

“Humanist Vampire” is more than just an exercise in blending styles and creating atmosphere; it has a deeper meaning beneath it all.

Maciej Kaczmarski

7 July 2024

humanist vampire

Such a debut like “Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person” —wise, funny, and charming—is something every novice filmmaker dreams of.

The parents of young Sasha, her aunt Victorine, and her melancholy cousin Denise throw her a birthday party. The first present is a keyboard, which Sasha begins to play with great skill, even though she has never done so before. The second gift is a visit from a clown hired by her aunt. Sasha is delighted with his performance, but when the clown fails to perform a magic trick, the adult family members pounce on him and drink his blood. It turns out they are an ancient vampire family, and the clown was meant to be Sasha’s first victim. However, the experience deeply traumatizes her, preventing her from developing vampire fangs. Many years later, nearly seventy-year-old Sasha, still in a teenage body, continues to avoid hunting, subsisting only on blood procured by her parents. Sasha joins a group session for suicidal individuals, where she meets Paul, who is obsessed with death. He is willing to give his life for Sasha, believing his death will then have meaning.

humanist vampire

“Humanist Vampire” is the feature debut of Ariane Louis-Seize, a Canadian director and screenwriter, and a graduate of Montreal’s Institut national de l’image et du son. She honed her craft by making short films, including “La Peau sauvage” (2016), “Les petites vagues” (2019), and “Les profondeurs” (2019). Louis-Seize co-wrote the screenplay for “Humanitarian Vampire” with Christine Doyon, a fellow alumna of the same film school. The main roles are played by Sara Montpetit [known for her outstanding, breakthrough performance in Sébastien Pilote’s “Maria Chapdelaine” (2021)] as Sasha and Félix-Antoine Bénard (an actor known from Canadian TV series) as Paul. “Humanist Vampire” premiered at the 80th Venice International Film Festival in July 2023 and has also been featured at other industry events (including Splat!FilmFest 2023 in Warsaw and Wrocław), receiving twenty nominations and more than twice as many awards in various categories.

All the praise for the film is fully justified—”Humanist Vampire” blends comedy-drama full of dark humor, horror (not too bloody), and the coming-of-age genre into a seamless, cohesive whole. Louis-Seize and Doyon clearly enjoy playing with horror conventions, while respecting and paying homage to them. The starting point, a story about a bloodsucker who doesn’t want to kill people, is similar to Jason Krawczyk’s “He Never Died” (2015), another Canadian horror comedy-drama. There’s also a hint of Tomas Alfredson’s “Let the Right One In” (2008) and Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive” (2013), but these are just loose associations, as Louis-Seize’s work has its own unique style. Every frame is beautifully shot, with colors matching the setting and mood of each scene (the darkness of suburban streets, the neon blue of a bowling alley, the blood-red interiors of Sasha’s room, etc.), complemented by a soundtrack where nostalgic jazz meets electronic music.

humanist vampire

However, “Humanist Vampire” is more than just an exercise in blending styles and creating atmosphere; it has a deeper meaning beneath it all. The film is not overly symbolic; on the contrary, it’s a straightforward story about the difficult coming-of-age of two young people struggling with exclusion, lack of self-acceptance, bullying by peers, melancholy, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts. The creators skillfully balance these challenging yet relevant issues with deadpan humor. It’s hard not to laugh at scenes like sipping blood through a straw from a plastic bag as if it were juice from a carton, a vampire’s attempt at suicide by eating a cookie, or a vampire mother complaining about having to hunt for two like an overburdened housewife. Telling difficult stories in a light, humorous, and unpretentious way is no easy feat, but the creators of “Humanist Vampire” have succeeded. In other words, it’s a great little film.