Vampires have been popular characters across all mediums for centuries and it is pretty much impossible to cover new ground when telling a vampire story. The Addiction from 1995 uses a standard analogy while testing out a few new ideas in its modern vampire tale. Unfortunately, it is content to never delve too far into anything.
Lili Taylor stars as Kathleen Conklin, a philosophy student at New York University who is attacked by a mysterious woman one night. Kathleen tries to fight her new urges and along the way questions humanity as a whole while trying to find humanity in herself.There is no middle ground in The Addiction; dialogue is either run of the mill or it is cringe worthy. Red flags go up almost immediately as the first scene is Kathleen exiting her philosophy class and discussing inherent evil. In a vacuum, there is nothing wrong with this, but the entirety of the movie is almost every character spouting high school level philosophy. The ones that are not questioning life spend their time spewing profanity. This is not an easy movie to listen to.
The plot moves at deliberate pace until it gets to a moment that makes the viewer think it is going to speed up before almost coming to a complete stop. The film stops to discuss the nature of man or evil, seems to pat itself on the back, then casually continues on. Some stories need to be told at steady pace to get their points across, but The Addiction does not seem to have much of a story to tell.
What makes The Addiction’s script and pacing worse is the fact that it does so much right. A newly minted vampire fighting off their new bloodlust is nothing new and equating the thirst for blood to drug addiction is common, but director Abel Ferara does bring fresh ideas to his movie. Vampires and sex go hand in glove but comparing a blood sucking attack to date rape borders on genius. In most films of the sub-genre, the new creature of the night becomes a stronger, sexier, and an all-around better person as they accept their vampirism. The Addiction goes full on with the drug comparison having Kathleen look, dress, and act like a junkie. The attacks are not just puncture wounds and instead seem to leave whole chunks of the victims’ necks missing. Best of all, it is shot in black and white that makes everything grittier and more gruesome. There are many moments that are eye opening.
Kathleen’s graduation party sums The Addiction up nicely. It is confusing at first and slowly lets the viewer in on what is about to happen. It becomes obvious what direction it is going in, leading to a payoff that is horrifying and chaotic while still managing to be surprising. It is the perfect ending to the movie.
The Addiction then continues for another ten minutes pontificating about life, death, and man’s place in it all, reminding the viewer yet again that there is a lot of good ideas in play, but the movie would rather take time stroking its own ego.