Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

In the most uniquely-titled movie of the entire festival, Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person delivers a modern coming-of-age vampiric dramedy with a subtle and elegant flair. This unique film marks the directorial debut of Ariane Louis-Seize, who co-wrote the screenplay with Christine Doyon. Together, the duo craft a genre-blending feature spilling over with heart.

In the opening scene, young Sasha has just been gifted a new keyboard for her birthday and a clown. The latter isn’t just for magic tricks and a little giggle—Sasha’s family wants her to literally consume the blood of Rico the Rooster. There are just two major problems: Sasha’s fangs have not yet come in, and she has an adverse reaction to seeing humans being physically harmed. Her concerned parents take her to doctors and psychologists, who suggest that Sasha could be suffering post traumatic stress.

Flashing forward many years later, Sasha (Sara Montpetit) is now an angsty teenager relying on her parents to provide her with blood bags so she doesn’t have to kill anyone. They announce to Sasha that they are cutting her off. She will need to go live with her sister Denise and “learn” how to properly hunt. No learning has been occurring with her parents spoon-feeding her everything. Without the crutch of mommy and daddy, Sasha inches towards certain doom.

Denise is abrasive and impatient, almost immediately imploring Sasha to pick out a man to feed from. Sasha’s cravings clash with her humanist emotions and desire to steer clear of killing any humans. As such, Sasha finds herself attending a depression and suicide anonymous meeting. Here she meets the quiet, depressed, and downright adorable Paul (Félix-Antoine Bénard). As the two connect over death and vinyls, a staggering truth begins to take shape. Sasha needs someone to feed on, and Paul longs to shuffle his way off this mortal coil. Paul, a bullied teen whose time at school has been nothing but trouble, finally sees the chance to end his life in a meaningful way. When Sasha suggests they carry out a dying wish, the night morphs into an exploration of budding friendship and romance.

Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person is a very sweet movie; as Sasha and Paul respectively, Sara Montpetit and Félix-Antoine Bénard charm their way through the breezy feature. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel given the way it concludes. The beauty lies in the simplicity and character-first narrative. Vampire mythology is played fast and loose, and by the time Sasha figures out how her fangs work, Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person had already won me over.

Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person screened at 2023’s Toronto International Film Festival.

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