“Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person” is an Uplifting Story of Depression and Death [BUFF Review]

Perhaps the most iconic description of vampire life comes from the tagline to the 1987 horror classic The Lost Boys: “Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire.” In addition to supernatural strength, vampires possess a sense of effortless cool and the ability to glamor anyone into getting what they want. Who wouldn’t die to be a part of this eternal clan? But would you actually be able to kill a human being? When faced with starvation and death, would you be able to bite into the sensitive flesh of your victim’s neck and drink their blood as they slowly die? For pacifist vampires, mealtime may be a little more difficult than meets the eye. Ariane Louis-Seize’s Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person explores this dark delemma in a cheeky variation of vampire lore. Part rom-com, part horror, this charming French Canadian film sheds light on conflicting desires and the deadly downside of trying to conform.  

For as long as she can remember, Sasha (Sara Montpetit) has hated to kill. Her parents keep hoping that if she just gets hungry enough, her fangs will pop out and she’ll begin to hunt. But it seems this sensitive pianist is the rare vampire with overactive empathy. She’s been surviving on “baggies” full of blood, but it may be time for this reluctant child to leave the nest. While attempting to make her first kill, Sasha meets Paul (Félix-Antoine Bénard), a quiet teenager who doesn’t much like being alive. This consenting suicidal person seems like the perfect meal, but Sasha can’t just force herself to become a bloodthirsty killer. With her family breathing down her neck and her baggie supply running low, Sasha must find a way to feed or resort to ending her undead life. 

Louis-Seize bounces from horror to comedy to family drama while flirting with romance along the way. The dryly witty script, cowritten by Louis-Seize and Christine Doyon, explores sensitive topics like suicide, depression, and teenage rebellion but remains relatively upbeat. Though stylish and sleek, these vampires feel like our own frustrating family. Parents argue about what’s best for their kids while trying to find the line between tough love and understanding. Aunts and cousins disapprove from afar, but hesitate to exert their will on someone else’s child. Though she’s now in her 80s, Sasha rebels against her well-meaning relatives, engaging in the relatable self-destruction that is a teen’s right of passage. Paul serves as a mirror image of her adolescent malaise. His own mother stands up for her child in public, but quietly guides him towards help for his depression. Of course this leads him straight into danger in a chilling reminder that despite our best efforts, we may end up failing our kids. 

Louis-Seize takes a humanist approach to suicide as both of her lead characters struggle with different reasons to end their lives. Sasha doesn’t want to die, but can’t seem to become the vampire her family has in mind. Paul on the other hand has no overt reason for his depression. He does face bullying and doesn’t seem to get along with his classmates, but he has a supportive mother and an outwardly happy life. His depression is just a part of who he is. Like Sasha’s empathetic tendencies, his sadness is woven into the fabric of his being. It’s refreshing to see this depiction of suicidal ideation without an underlying cause he can solve or overcome. Though they come from opposite ends of the Alive spectrum, Sasha and Paul find that they are kindred spirits. It’s a touching tale of radical acceptance and an unconventional coming-of-age story with death standing in for puberty and rebellion.

Despite moments of horror and a touching quasi-romance, Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person is first a horror comedy. An opening scene in which a young Sasha (Lilas-Rose Cantin) enjoys a magic show performed by a clown her family can’t wait to eat perfectly sets the tone for this quirky comedy filled with heart. Noémie O’Farrell is particularly effective as Denise, Sasha’s psychotic cousin who attempts to teach her the finer points of predatory seduction. Gabriel-Antoine Roy makes a brief appearance as a failed meal turned family member, often breaking the tension with an idiotic, but hilarious quip. Montpetit and Bénard are more stoic as they watch the world around them react to their disconnectedness, but that just makes their moments of action pack a harder punch. Their innocent chemistry is endearing and comes through even in the quiet moments of their first date/assisted suicide. 

There’s no shortage of vampire films in the horror genre. From austere castle dwellers ripping bodices to feral creatures ripping out throats, we’ve now seen just about every possible iteration of this fascinating beast. But Louis-Seize manages to give us something new. Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person is a quirky and sweet exploration of the meaning of life and an uplifting reminder that there’s always a way to be true to ourselves. 

Jenn Adams is a writer, podcaster, and film critic from Nashville, TN. Find her social media nonsense @jennferatu.