Ariane Louis-Seize Interview – Director of ‘Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person’ / Available On Streaming Rental or Purchase


It’s impossible to make a vampire film without engaging with the cinematic canon of bloodsuckers. In fact, a vampire movie is more likely to riff on the tropes and rules of other vampire movies rather than any historic folklore. When prepping for her blackly comic coming-of-age film about young pacifist vampire Sasha (Sara Montpetit) arranging the death of a suicidal teenager, Paul (Félix-Antoine Bénard), writer-director Ariane Louis-Seize watched as much of the vampire canon as possible so she had a strong foundation to be playful with. 

She was drawn to the most unique offerings—The Hunger, Only Lovers Left Alive, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night—that inspired the tone, style, and themes of a film about belonging to no time or people. We talked to Louis-Seize at the Venice Film Festival just before Humanist Vampire won the Giornate degli Autori Director’s Award about bringing one of horror’s biggest villains to French Quebec.

Projektor: What was your impulse to tell this story?

Ariane Louis-Seize: I like to play with repulsion and attraction. If I was a vampire, and I really liked people and connecting with people, those are two things that are impossible to accomplish. I thought it was a good playground to talk about searching for who we are and connecting to parts of us that feel completely different. I thought if [Sasha] met with a person who wants to die, it’s kind of a win-win situation, but at the same time they both are super lonely. I wanted to talk about loneliness and death, but also life.

It’s hard to pinpoint something really precise, [because] it’s more like impulses. It always starts with a really precise character, it emerges in my head and it feels like I need to follow it. But I also really like coming-of-age stories, dark humor, and vampire tales, so it’s like a merge of all that.

Modern vampire stories often taken place somewhere isolated, like in What We Do in the Shadows or Twilight. Did you want to bring small-town French Canada to the widely known vampire mythos?

I really wanted to create this “out of time” small suburb from Quebec. It’s true that it’s always this kind of vibe in vampire films, and we never had that in Quebec, so I wanted to do the Quebecois version of that. I really like this weird place where you don’t really know what era you are in. It’s more ageless. I never say what city [the film is set] and I shoot in a couple cities as well. 

How did the actors build on your specific designs for the characters?

The tone of the film is very peculiar, but I tried to find actors that all have really good timing, and are really smart and don’t play comedy super big. I wanted the comedy to be more situational, and they all understood what I wanted to do. They brought a lot of ideas, and we worked on the characters together. They gave me so much confidence. I found one main inspiration for each of the characters, as I wanted them to represent a different era. I think the characters [on the page] were very precise, but the cast evolved them.

Together we tried to find physical things, like ways to move. Time is different for vampires because they are super old, so they move really slow. They never talk and move at the same time. When they pick something up, it’s fast. Sometimes when the two parents move, they move together. Things like that we brainstormed together because I wanted to add a physical type of comedy in a subtle way.

You don’t really want to die. You just want to feel something and be close to that.

Both young characters are almost liberated as they draw closer to their first kill or being bitten—Paul goes on a mission of payback against his bullies after arranging his suicide. Was there something about freedom that you wanted to explore in a coming-of-age story?

Definitely. I think freedom from others, to take power over their own life. For Paul, it was never a thought in his head to do that kind of thing. I don’t see him as a victim, it’s just… people are weird. He doesn’t like to be mistreated, but that’s not why he wants to die. It’s because he can’t find purpose and doesn’t belong. When he decides to be free of that, he realizes that maybe he has more power; it gives them this taste of life. I think this is why he wants to die. It’s because when he comes close to [death], he feels something. You don’t really want to die. You just want to feel something and be close to that. When he feels power over his own life, it can feel like the same thing.

You use long, unbroken shots to show both the most exciting and most upsetting moments in the film. How did you plan the look of the film, and what was your motivation behind those longer takes?

I like long shots that are not dull. It’s hard to achieve. For example, the record [playing scene], I rehearsed with them so the simplicity of it says something. I like when the framing is calm and still, the characters have more freedom. I want to play with sequences that are really more upbeat, and then [she makes a deflation noise] have a moment to just observe them and a first sign of love.

A lot of the humor is deadpan; the actors often show still expressions that can be funny and also easily read for emotion. Did you find that moments that were funny could also be very dramatic?

That’s my favorite kind of humor. You have comedy and tragedy and you have tragedy and comedy. Sometimes something is really heartbreaking but also funny, and I like to try finding those moments. When I’m in the audience myself, I really like those moments. I think that’s the way I see life in general. In tragedy, there’s some humor.

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