I half-seriously played with the idea that this was some kind of a quasi-film school graduation student film turned into a full feature while I watched this. It certainly walks like a duck and acts like a duck. After all, it’s a black and white movie from the 90s that seems to want to flaunt how smart it is by delivering philosophical nonsense via the protagonist’s narration and it doesn’t really seem to have a story beyond “Lili turns into a vampire and she eats people”. I do want to believe the movie is not trying to be pretentious, but given how much it loves gratuitous name dropping, I’m also kinda leaning towards the former. On one hand, the protagonist is after all trying to get a doctorate in philosophy, so it is appropriate for her to throw these names around. But the name dropping and thick philosophical narration do have a that edge to it where it can’t help but to feel contrived and forced.
It’s no secret that my primary reason to watch this was to see a young Lily Taylor perform. And it was.. interesting. She’s both incredibly off putting and alluring, looking this young. I’m so used to a more mature in age of her it was peculiar seeing her so, I don’t know, girlish. Lili does manage to give her role the required depth where she’s both a sympathetic victim as well as a bit irredeemable monster. I fully enjoyed the way the movie mirrors being a vampire and a substance abusing addiction and plays around with the parallels of drinking blood being as self destructive of an act as shooting up smack through your veins, and Taylor manages to bridge that gap considerably well, so it doesn’t ever come off as corny.
The “vampire = drug addict” allusion was a very interesting idea but unfortunately it fails to transfer into a satisfying way feature length plot. You certainly get to see the bad aspects of the addiction, but they don’t go deep enough the rabbit hole to show the nasty side of her addiction. The ending massacre did make up some of the slower parts, and it is in its own way horrific, but it’s not the same as seeing a real drug addict who has completely wasted away, has psychologically degenerated and will subject himself into ever lowering depths of immorality to get a fix. Thematically, it’s there, but it lacks the punch to disturb you the same way. The massacre should have been more terrifying and hedonistic in my opinion. On a more positive note, the addiction angle does lead to Christopher Walken’s character, albeit rather briefly. He has an interesting small part in a short, impromptu rehab sequence but unfortunately that’s all it is and it doesn’t really amount to much so he’s just a momentary fun little distraction.
All that said, I wouldn’t call this movie exactly bad, but it is certainly an acquired taste. I honestly wanted to like this more, but it never won me over. It moves very slowly, without a compelling central plot thread, so the movie works better as a niche curiosity than as anything else.