Directed by Blaine Thurier, Kicking Blood focuses on Anna (Alanna Bale), a vampire who lives a mundane life. Living in an unnamed town, she works in an underground library with her only human friend, Bernice (Rosemary Dunsmore), and goes hunting with fellow vampires Nina (Ella Jonas Farlinger) and Boris (Benjamin Sutherland). One night, she encounters alcoholic Robbie (Luke Bilyk) on the street and reluctantly takes him in, even though he isn’t scared of dying. When Anna sees him struggling to overcome his alcoholism, she is inspired to stop targeting and hunting loners for sustenance.
Compelled by their respective urges to drink blood and alcohol, both Anna and Robbie see their addictions as a matter of life or death, which, in Anna’s case, could not be more true as she dreams of becoming human. Their ‘friends’ do not help matters – Nina and Boris see humans as nothing more than cattle while Robb’s friend Vanessa feels that he is a natural drinker. They try and get Anna and Robbie to surrender to their ‘true natures’ yet the protagonists slowly recognise the harm in their mutual addictions. It doesn’t take long for their growing emotions to threaten their co-dependent relationship, not to mention their very lives.
With an air reminiscent of Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In, Kicking Blood uses vampirism as a metaphor for alcoholism to delve into the psychological effects of addiction and co-dependency. Thurier and Leonard Farlinger’s screenplay heavily focuses on these while exploring the rare consequences of vampire starvation. Therefore, the horror aspect of vampirism lingers in the background so Kicking Blood presents itself as more of a modern gothic thriller.
With its premise exploring such heavy themes, Thurier’s simplistic direction highlights Jonathon Cliff’s picturesque cinematography and the clever use of lighting. In addition, the cast offers muted performances that emphasise the chilling narrative and the sobering yet lacklustre dialogue.
Overall, Kicking Blood has the potential to be a great vampire film with its strong visuals and commentary on addiction. However, its overly subtle narrative ends up dragging the film, so it ultimately lacks bite.
Director: Blaine Thurier; Leonard Farlinger
Stars: Alanna Bale, Luke Bilyk, Benjamin Sutherland, Ella Jonas Farlinger, Rosemary Dunsmore
Runtime: 80 minutes