Lady Summerisle (strange_complex) wrote,
Lady Summerisle
strange_complex

16. The Addiction (1994), dir. Abel Ferrara

This is a vampire film which treats vampirism as a very direct metaphor for drug addiction, to such a degree that it quite often reminded me of Requiem for a Dream (2000). It sets itself up as challenging and intellectually-driven early on, opening with footage of American atrocities committed in Vietnam combined with a voice-over musing over questions of individual vs. collective guilt, which resolves into the lecturer of a graduate class in Philosophy attended by the main character, Kathleen (Lili Taylor). The war footage is of course in black and white, but this is also retained as we switch to the class watching it, and throughout the film. The main plot sees Kathleen attacked by a female vampire while walking home at night, before succumbing to the symptoms of vampirism and an addiction to blood herself, all interspersed with what becomes a rather rocky road through her PhD studies and related debates about the nature of guilt, sin, and the inescapably evil essence of humanity. Though Kathleen completes her PhD, Philosophy is ultimately revealed as able only to diagnose, not solve, these problems, and the story ends with Kathleen instead finding a kind of salvation and rebirth after she has been hospitalised and sought redemption from a visiting Catholic chaplain.

I liked what it was trying to do, and thought it did vampirism-as-drug-addiction about as well as anybody ever could. The philosophising was perhaps a little heavy-handed at times, though, and I had assumed before starting to watch that the addictive character of academic research and academic culture would also be illuminated through the medium of vampirism, but was disappointed in that regard. I would definitely have preferred that to a story ending with a religious redemption, anyway. Christopher Walken is in it, but he came across as quite jarring initially, since this isn't the type of film he usually appears in at all, and nor was it very apparent that he realised this himself for a couple of scenes. He did get there eventually, though, delivering a great portrayal of the hypocritical addict who goes on about how they have conquered their addiction through all sorts of woo, only to gorge himself on Kathleen's blood without the slightest acknowledgement of the disconnect.

I think that's about all I have to say about this one, though there are some good reviews out there which delve deeper than I can into its themes and motifs: e.g. here and here. I watched it on Google Play, though I've just spotted that the whole thing is also available on YouTube.

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Tags: academia, christianity, drugs, films, films watched 2020, religion, reviews, vampires
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