TIFF 2021 Movie Review – Kicking Blood (2021)

IMDb Summary - Anna is disappointed with her life and tired of the people she preys on. Her one mortal friend, Bernice, is deathly ill, and a chance encounter with alcoholic Robb. Her fellow bloodsuckers see humans as food with a tendency to talk back.
JulieGSeptember 18, 202155/1005 min
Year of Release
Toronto International Film Festival
1 hr 20 mins
Overall Score
Rating Summary

Kicking Blood is a vampire film that tries hard to defy its place alongside other horror films. In some ways, it succeeds and in others, not so much. The main character is Anna, a vampire who is bored with her mundane life of hunting prey and tending to books at the local library. And that’s an odd thing for a vampire to be doing, but this vampire is a librarian. On her way home one night, she stumbles upon a down-and-out dunk named Robb, who manages to pique her interest. She allows Robb into her house and her life, admitting to him without hesitation that she is a vampire. Robb, however, does not react as expected, and Anna decides to let him live. For a vampire to let go of its prey is a big deal, but it’s not portrayed as such. There is a lot of having to “join the dots” and read between scenes in this film. It’s hard to say whether or not that was intentional, but it doesn’t work well for the film’s pacing.

For a brief moment, we are shown Anna’s vulnerability which in some ways reminded me a lot of Let The Right One In with Eli and Oskar’s relationship. The film is heavily accentuated with periods of what some might consider dullness, but I found it quite atmospheric. The lulls in the story feel like distances growing between the characters, particularly with Anna and Robb. It’s hard to articulate the feeling. There is negativity surrounding Anna, perhaps even dread of what’s to come and this is brilliantly written and captivating for the audience.

But there are also a few moments in the film that irked me and made me feel slightly disappointed, such as Anna’s “friends” who are supposed to represent the evil element in the film and Anna’s life but come across as bland. A little more like cookie-cutter vampires stuck in the story for continuity. Kicking Blood refers to blood being a “bad” habit, much like being addicted to drugs. It’s a reference that eventually makes sense further into the film and is one of the more exciting aspects of Anna’s journey as a character. Will she or won’t she? It’s a nice touch.

I can’t connect to the actors or the crew on this film as I’ve never seen any of them in movies before this. Sometimes that’s a good thing because you want to see new and exciting actors, writers, and directors doing their thing. But in this respect, it’s a let-down. At the end of the film, you’re left with a hollow feeling as if you connected with something, but that something suddenly dissipated. There was potential for this film to be so much better than it was.

Originally reviewed for Keithlovesmovies by Julie and reposted here.


Freelance entertainment writer and reviewer. Visit my blog on https://thebrokenquill.com.

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