Kicking Blood (TIFF 2021) Review - A Refreshing Vampiric Allegory (Written By Anna Miller)
Kicking Blood is the newest vampiric horror comedy from director Blaine Thurier which just premiered at TIFF 2021. The film stars Alanna Bale as Anna, an apathetic vampire generally unimpressed with humans and the monotony of her own immortality. Luke Bilyk stars as Robbie, a severe alcoholic who has recently hit rock bottom, as well as the streets, which is when he crosses paths with Anna.
Anna originally views Robbie as easy, opportune prey and when he follows her back to her place she leads him inside, with full intention to drink his blood and ultimately kill him. Perhaps to infuse some entertainment into her day, she plays with her victim— telling Robbie what she is and what she plans to do. To her surprise though, Robbie accepts his fate and uses his last moments to kick alcohol officially, for however much longer he has to live. He symbolically pours out an expensive bottle of booze, emptying it at their feet before turning to Anna and telling her to ‘get on with it’.
His actions having intrigued her, Anna changes her mind and refuses to kill him; instead, she let’s him stay at her place while he goes through withdrawals. Robbie’s determination to quit cold turkey in turn drives Anna to kick her blood addiction as well, but this takes a toll on her physically as well as socially, as her fellow vampire gang members (played by Ella Jonas Farlinger and Benjamin Sutherland) are not too keen on her decision or the fact she’s living with a human shaped blood bag. Tensions rise, emotions are running rampant as feelings are realized and quite quickly, the game is afoot.
Kicking Blood is a refreshing film in the way that it uses vampires as an allegory for addiction, and delves quite deep into topics such as substance abuse, strength, purpose and death. Thurier has stated that what he saw while living in Vancouver as far as the homeless population and addiction he witnessed drove him to co-write the script alongside Leonard Farlinger. This intentional backbone drives the entire story, which is only accentuated by great performances all around and some surprisingly eye popping cinematography for such a dark film.
The relatively serious tone is balanced superbly with campy vampiric aspects that are reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There’s plenty of dry humor sprinkled throughout and amusing scenes to lighten the overall mood, though it doesn’t distract from the film’s ultimate message of the seriousness of addiction. This makes the film an enjoyable time and a memorable one as well.
Kicking Blood gets a 3.5/5!
DIWT site writer Anna Miller sat down with the leads of Kicking Blood - Alanna Bale and Luke Bilyk in an interview to chat about the film, shooting during a pandemic, and the pressures and research that went into their accurate portrayals of addicts. Interview coming soon to our YouTube channel- stay tuned!