KICKING BLOOD – a film by Blaine Thurier – SPOILERS
Birthdays don’t mean much to immortals, but Anna (Alanna Bale), a vampire of unspecified age, finds herself confronted with cake with questionable icing and a candle stuck in it. She blows out the candle and makes an effort, but of course she can’t eat the thing, and none of her co-workers seem to find that in the least bit odd. One of those co-workers is Bernice (Rosemary Dunsmore) who is (perhaps) terminally ill and being kept alive by various medications. Anna finds Bernice’s situation fascinating. When she overhears Gerry (Shaun Austin-Olsen) treating Bernice somewhat shabbily, the vampire finds it necessary to take action and lets herself into his apartment. He of course misunderstands her visit and offers her some eighty-year-old scotch. She doesn’t drink alcohol, but after feeding on Gerry, she takes that bottle of excellent scotch with her.
On the way home, she encounters Robbie (Luke Bilyk), a drunk who has just been kicked out into the street by his sister and is seriously considering suicide. He asks her: “Where do we go when we die?”, and that is just the right thing to ask Anna, who is a connoisseur of death. Once she finds out he’s suicidal, (and probably remembering the candle on the birthday cake she could not eat) she tries to allay his fears of the afterlife, telling him “There’s nothing. You just go out like a candle.” It’s cold outside, but not cold enough for him to simply freeze to death, so he manages to get permission to follow Anna home.
Somehow both Anna and a wintry night in Sudbury become beautifully mysterious. Bale told Wilson Kwong of Film Inquiry that light was used to create the film’s unique atmosphere: “The lighting in it is pretty dark and dim, and romantic,” she explained. “I think that that played a huge effect on how I played the character because you can’t be over the top and bubbly and sparkly on film when you have this abrasive light in your face.”
After she tells Robbie that she is a vampire and intends to kill him, he is acquiescent, but at the last minute, asks to do one final thing. He gets up from the couch, pours that eighty-year-old scotch down the bathtub drain, and swears off drink for the rest of his life. When Anna points out that the stuff is expensive, he says: “Yes it is. It cost me everything.” He exposes his throat again, but his easy acceptance of death puts her off her food. She leaves him there and goes to bed. Blood is more than food for this variety of vampire. It is intoxicating and addicting as well. Perhaps the lack of fear gives the stuff a bad aftertaste, or lessens the high.
Because robbing the dead is something she finds undignified, Anna works as a librarian. She and her friends Boris (Benjamin Sutherland) and Nina (Ella Jonas Farlinger) hunt together most of the time and are a bit judgemental of their prey, considering that they regard humans as “food, not pets”. Ben (Josh Bainbridge), the first feed we get to see, meets with their disapproval because he is attempting to cheat on his wife. After Ben indicates that he his no interest in having children, they tell him he is a “hobbled gazelle” and that they are a “pack of cheetahs”. Nina sings part of Dido’s Lament to him, and gets him to season his blood with another line of coke.
The second victim we meet is Lara (Kristin Shepherd), a somewhat cynical artist, and certainly the most interesting of their prey. Anna and company gain entrance to her home saying they want to buy some of her work, and then appear to role play as grim reapers. “You’re here to kill me,” is Lara’s sudden realization after talking to them for a bit. Lara’s lack of interest in achieving immortality through art makes Anna try to abort the kill, but she has no success with that. A short time later, and further inspired by Robbie’s determination to stop drinking, Anna decides to kick her bloody habit.
At one point during Robbie’s cold turkey recovery process he seems to actually die, and Anna shocks him back to life by dunking him in a bathtub of cold water (the same antique bathtub into which he dumped that expensive scotch). After this baptismal experience, he tells her “I think you saved my life.” Robbie eventually tries to return the favour resulting in an intense ending that requires some thought to properly process, which is a rarity in films these days.