ABOUT: Quebec filmmaker Ariane Louis-Seize — whose sultry, stylish coming-of-age study Les petites vagues was named one of Canada’s Top Ten shorts in 2018 — graduates to features with this deadpan horror comedy about a young Montreal bloodsucker who can only feed on people for whom she feels sympathy.
Sasha (Sara Montpetit) is a teenage vampire — well, “teenage” is relative in their world — with an empathy problem. Unlike the rest of her clan, Sasha’s fangs don’t come out when she’s hungry or sensing fear; she needs to feel a personal connection to her prey. And then Sasha meets Paul (Félix-Antoine Bénard), an actual teenager convinced he’ll never enjoy anything in life. She befriends him, introduces him to her world and its secrets, and he happily volunteers to be her next meal. Which would be great, except for the whole empathy thing.
Reaction: Stop me if you have heard this one before; a vampire named Sasha (Sara Monpetit from MARIA CHAPDELAINE, TIFF ’21) is very much not wanting to munch on humans but must do so, and finds a way by looking for someone who already wants to end their life. This existential crisis is quite unusual but we are also in the realm of French Canadian surrealism, and HUMANIST VAMPIRE is incredibly entertaining in how it handles this storytelling very seriously. In addition, the movie has a fantastic lead in Sara Monpetit as the conflicted Sasha. With her hair hiding most of her face and deep, expressive eyes, she is such a terrific choice for playing the vampire with a conscience, and filmmaker (name here) keeps things playful and uniquely funny, and carrying us through a dark third act. While I do know this will be a hit in Quebec, I’m not quite sure this will translate to the rest of Canada and more wide audiences, but what is here is pretty terrific overall.
Note: a screener was provided for review of this title for TIFF.