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‘Kicking Blood’ review: Dir. Blaine Thurier (2021) [TIFF]

by Paul Heath

It’s vampires stripped bare in this taut, though involving genre piece from Canadian filmmaker Blaine Thurier. Kicking Blood offers a new take on the much-covered subgenre, presenting his bloodsuckers in a much different light to the cliched, long-cloaked shadows of the night that we’ve been used to for decades. It’s a welcomed spin, too, Thurier’s film focussing on addiction and normal twenty-somethings navigating life in normal, contemporary North America.

Courtesy of TIFF

Kicking Blood centres largely on Anna (Alanna Bale), a vampire who is seemingly bored of life and the bloodlust that runs through her veins – but that all changes when she meets alcoholic Robbie (Luke Bilyk) who wants to dry out. After she decides not to bite into the side of his neck, and resists any sexual interest – ‘I don’t fuck humans, ‘ she’s says as he enters her abode after their initial meeting – Anna decides that she will try to beat her addiction – sucking the blood from mortals – as he attempts to conquer his.

In the background, there are Anna’s friends, sucking everything out of life both physically and metaphorically – they think nothing of robbing their victims, as well as taking their lives – a characteristic of the modern day vampire stuck in immortal youth that Anna finds completely unbearing.

The movie lacks much more in terms of plot, but it is an interesting take, certainly. Bale is fantastic as Anna, the young vamp with a soft spot for her fellow addicted, and while the character is certainly vicious with other folk, particularly during the first third of the film, the flipping of the character to care for a human she sees with similar issues works really well and you will for a happy ending for all.

Whether that comes or not, well, you’ll have to see for yourself. It may not be for everyone, but at just 80 minutes long, Kicking Blood will certainly find an audience following an impressive TIFF debut, particularly with vampire and horror aficionados looking for a different view on the subgenre.

Kicking Blood was reviewed at the Toronto International Film Festival 2021.

Kicking Blood

Paul Heath



Those looking for fantastical bloodsuckers might be disappointed by this bare bones, simple, though very effective piece of genre cinema. Filmmaker Blaine Thurier strips back the vampire movie mould and crafts something new that might be lacking tons on plot, but is skilfully executed and utterly absorbing throughout.


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