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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 09.15.21] Canada drama vampires

I first discovered writer/director Blaine Thurier with A Gun to the Head (review) and while he's continued to make movies over the course of the last decade, it's been some time since one of them appealed to me – that is until Kicking Blood.

Anna is tired. She's become disillusioned with her eternal life, the people that come and go, the forgettable meals, her vampire friends. She doesn't see the point of it all and while she's not ready to go just yet, she's far from happy. On her way home one night she meets Robbie, a suicidal drunk with nothing left to lose. She allows him to follow her and the next thing you know, the pair are spending every moment together. It's not immediately clear what Anna's plans are for Robbie but pretty soon, he's getting sober and she's feeling inspired to make a dramatic change in her life as well.

Kicking Blood isn't your average vampire movie and Thurier builds a universe that takes familiar vampire lore and twists it just slightly. The movie also digs into aspects of vamp life that are often overlooked or completely ignored. His vampires are closely equated to junkies: they feed for food but also for the high - not to mention the cash, often stealing from their victims. They aren't angry and suffering, instead they're boisterous and, for lack of a better word, alive. They roam the clubs and streets, enjoying the hunt and meals, and while Anna spends time with them, it's clear she's not like them. At least not anymore.

While Thurier's world is vastly entertaining, Kicking Blood owes much of its success to Alanna Bale whose performance as Anna is just the right mix of tortured and cold-hearted. This is really her story and her transformation and the movie wouldn't work nearly as well without her balanced performance. She's completely mesmerizing.

Kicking Blood is helped along by Jonathon Cliff's cinematography which is, at times, lush and gorgeous, at others dirty and grimy, and yet at others it feels romantic and tender. The score from Ohad Benchetrit and Justin Small helps to build the mood without ever feeling overwhelming.

With Kicking Blood, Thurier builds a fantastic world and lays the foundation for a universe that begs to be explored further; the ending certainly leaves ample opportunity for more.

Kicking Blood is currently playing the festival circuit.

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