Kicking Blood

TIFF 2021: Kicking Blood Review

Blaine Thurier’s Kicking Blood may wear the cloak of a straightforward vampire tale, offering a modern spin on traditional tropes, but it is really a story of addiction. Growing tired of eternal life, Anna (Alanna Bale) works at a library to pass the time when she is not out hunting for prey with fellow hipster bloodsuckers Nina (Ella Jonas Farlinger) and Boris (Benjamin Sutherland). The trio approach their bloodlust the same way druggies are looking to score that next high. By all accounts Robbie (Luke Bilyk), would make a perfect victim for Anna as he is an alcoholic who seemingly has nothing left to live for. However, when Anna and Robbie meet, they each see something in the other that just might give them the strength to break free of the vices that shackle them.

Showing growth as a visual storyteller, Thurier’s latest film is easily his most lush work yet. Subtly playing with shadows and colour to convey emotion, his film soars when quietly observing the overall atmosphere and shifting moods of the characters’ inner conflicts.

Unfortunately, the uneven script, full of stylized dialogue, and swift runtime do not allow for the same thought-provoking depth in narrative as in the images on screen. The supporting characters are underdeveloped, one never understands why Nina and Boris are so determined to keep Anna in the fold when they can turn whoever they want, so their actions come off as mere plot contrivances. Though a visually rich film, Kicking Blood lacks the narrative bite needed to make it truly memorable.

Follow That Shelf for our latest coverage including reviews, interviews and more, live from TIFF – and join in on the conversation on Twitter and Letterboxd.