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TIFF Review: ‘Kicking Blood’s Approach to Vampire Mythology is More Indie Drama than Straight-Up Horror

October 31, 2021Ben MK

With Halloween upon us, the time has come once again for ghouls and goblins to roam the streets. From creepy creatures to comic book heroes, there's no shortage of characters for people to embody as they embark on their annual candy pilgrimage or seasonal social gathering. But when it comes to Halloween costumes, there are few as classic as the tried-and-true vampire. Likewise, in the realm of cinema, the nosferatu has become one of the mainstays of the horror genre. And in Kicking Blood, director Blaine Thurier puts his own spin on the mythos, in this tale of one vampire's attempt to kick her old habits.

One of a trio of modern-day vampires who have made themselves at home in the big city, Anna (Alanna Bale) works the early shift at a downtown public library, a job that has given her the opportunity to explore her love of books while getting to know the humans that she would otherwise consider a literal meal ticket. However, when she meets Robbie (Luke Bilyk) on the way home one morning, her life takes an unexpected turn. An alcoholic at the end of his rope, Robbie has been abandoned by his friends and now finds himself unemployed and suicidal. Yet, despite Robbie's sad state of affairs, Anna can't bring herself to put him out of his misery. Instead, the two of them end up forming something of a romantic bond, as they vow to help one another through their mutual addictions. But when Anna's fellow vampires, Nina (Ella Jonas Farlinger) and Boris (Benjamin Sutherland), find out, will they be understanding — or will they put the proverbial stake through Anna and Robbie's relationship?

More akin to Leaving Las Vegas than it is to Twilight, the result isn't your typical exercise in bloodsucking dramatics. Still, what Kicking Blood lacks in contemporary genre thrills it somewhat makes up for with its unconventional approach to these classic movie monsters. Unfortunately, audiences looking for something with a little more bite may want to look elsewhere. However, if you're in the mood for a story that's more indie drama than straight-up horror fantasy, this will certainly satisfy your thirst.

Kicking Blood screened under the Contemporary World Cinema programme at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 20 min.

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