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Abel Ferrara's moody, allegorical vampire tale makes fascinating and
pointed statements on sin and redemption, spirituality and the nature
of good (there's precious little of it) and evil (no one is safe from
it). And unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it was relatively ignored
Lili Taylor gives a brooding, glib and haunting central performance as Kathleen Conklin, a New York University grad student who is pulled into an alley and bitten by a seductive female vampire (Annabella Sciorra), from which she emerges uncontrollably drawn into a world of violence and insatiable cravings for human blood. Ferrara's irredeemable urban hell landscape is more immediate and frightening than a million Transylvanias and by contrasting Taylor's "addiction" to the horrors of the past (war atrocities, the Holocaust) and present (heroine, AIDS), the film has more bite and impact than any fang-bearing, gore or special effects could even attempt to muster up. Nicolas St. John's intriguing philosophical screenplay and Ken Kelsch's gorgeous black and white photography (creating a world solely of light and dark, which is a key element in the plot), are not to be overlooked either.
Call it pretentious for the philosophy references (Sarte, Nietzche...) if you want, but this highly intelligent and disturbing low-budgeter is one of the most accomplished and well-thought out horror films I've ever seen. Don't let over-hyped, attention hogging Hollywood productions like BRAM STOKER'S Dracula or INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE keep you from seeing it.
'The Addiction' is one of the most original vampire movies ever made. In fact, I can't think of another one quite like it. Abel Ferrara has made some strange and disturbing movies in his time, and this one is as strange and disturbing as any. Lili Taylor ('I Shot Andy Warhol') is brilliant as a troubled, soul searching philosophy student who has an unexpected and life-changing encounter with a mysterious stranger ('Cop Land's Annabella Sciorra). Dark, deep, sometimes blackly humorous, and frequently too obscure for its own good, this can be heavy going at times, but is never less than interesting. Christopher Walken, who did some superb work for Ferrara in his classic 'The King Of New York', has only a cameo here, but what a cameo! Walken is terrific and unforgettable. The rest of the supporting cast includes 'The Sopranos' Edie Falco and (briefly) Michael Imperioli, Paul Calderon ('Girlfight'), and Kathryn Erbe ('Stir Of Echoes'). This is a unique movie that will be appreciated by those with an open mind and preference for "difficult" viewing. Recommended.
This movie was even scarier for me since I spent 2/3 of my life in New
York City and all the settings were in my family's neighborhood!
The acting was first rate, as was the storyline and cinematography, but all the philosophical dissertations annoyed the HELL out of me because it reminded me of some of the intellectual snobs I went to school with who had lower IQ's than my cat.
Upon reading the previous review, it just occurred to me that all the snobbery made perfect sense.
The character was probably in shock for several weeks. In HER mind, a vampire wouldn't resist his or her impulses they would just become feral. As such, to her, this constant internal dialogue of trying to figure out whether or not her addictions are psychological or supernatural somehow proves her normalcy (at least in her universe).
Christopher Walken was GENIUS and so convincing that I never EVER want to meet him in person! His explanation of his adaptation to his vampirism made it seem so normal (it REALLY felt like he was giving the audience a confession under the guise of acting) that you got the sense that he WASN'T acting!
I have to say that the graduation scene is one of the single most disturbing things that I have ever seen in my life! I saw it coming, but never really acknowledged before seeing this, that horror movies are realistic because all the writers/directors have to do is open up the local newspaper to see what a real monster is!
In the sister film to the Funeral philosophy student Kathleen Conklin is
dragged into an alley and bitten by Casanova and left to bleed. Despite
hospital care she begins to change and have strange desires. With her
desires controlling her turns to Peina for help.
A sister film in that both film share a crew, a writer and some of the cast. The genres are very different but the themes are the same religion and redemption. The vampire thing isn't played like it usually is stakes through the heart etc, these are mentioned but not laboured. Instead the story is about the origins of sin and the extent it controls us and how we can be redeemed. It cleverly uses the vampire myth as an allegory for wider human evil `We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. We aren't evil because we do evil, we do evil because we are evil'.
At times it gets a little heavy the ending in particular takes some interpretation and the message can be easily misunderstood. However ignoring the message this also stands up as a great vampire film the party which turns into a massacre is as good (if not better) then the nightclub opening of Blade, and much more meaningful to boot. Ferrara is a master director who has never followed the money to blockbusters here he is in total control of his themes and the film rarely loses focus. His clever use of music is also good a blend of all styles. The theme song feels like it's going to be a 1980's romantic comedy, but this blends straight into hip-hop and others to create a mix that never feels strange in fact a baseline seems to run under the whole film like a heartbeat.
Lili Taylor is on top form as Conklin and commands attention the whole time. Walken and Sciorra are both good but have less screen time than in the Funeral, however here, as there, they have key lines of dialogue that carry tremendous weight. Sopranos co-stars Falco and Imperioli are both good but are no more than bit players. The real stars are Ferrara and writer Nicolas St John, who wrote this and The Funeral after the death of his son.
Overall this is a great film that serves up more for thought than for action. To this end it won't please those expecting a Blade style vampire film but to fans of Ferrara used to his themes this will be very enjoyable.
Sublime, intriguing vampire flic from the very weird mind of Abel Ferrara, the man who brought the world The King of New York, Driller Killer, and Nine Lives of a Wet Pussy. This moody, stylish, esoteric treatise mixes vampires, drug addiction, and Kierkegaard. A bit too talky for some, and more than a little pretentious, The Addiction nonetheless delivers some very disturbing imagery and beautiful b/w cinematography. For those who prefer their vamps with more of a philosophical..bite. Lili Taylor is wonderful as the bookworm innocent drawn into a world of hopeless addiction and bloodletting. But Ferrara's night children are not Anne Rice's brooding, romantic loners - they are as brutal and savage as any street addict, jonesing for another fix. Christopher Walken provides yet another classy cameo, this time as a ray of vampire hope, showing Taylor's character that the addiction can be controlled, that humanity, while not restored, can be at least mimicked. This moovie will not be for all...tastes, but the MooCow says show it to yer artsy-fartsy friends & watch them recoil. :=8)
I haven't seen THE ADDICTION in ten years, but I do recommend it from
what I remember. And the list of attractive concepts are, envelope
please: Lili Taylor, Christopher Walken, Anabella Sciorra, black and
white meta-fictional film, and of course vampires galore! Abel Ferrara
has directed other well known movies such as Bad Lieutenant,
California, and the Funeral. Of these movies, I mildly recommend the
first two but definitely not the third. The Funeral is plain boring and
dreary, while the other two entertain by showing the gritty side of
Caution, if you're the type of vampire fan who must have each actor decked out in fangs and yellow contacts, then steer clear of this movie, since it's really questionable whether the characters in THE ADDICTION are actually vampires or are just plain junkies in nice clothes.
Lastly, there is a very complex philosophical feel to THE ADDICTION, as Lili Taylor muses about life and death in deep conversations in different venues around New York City: a college book store, movie theater, etc. I recommend any philosopher out there to grab THE ADDICTION off the shelves as soon as possible.
Speaking of the mid-90's, that short-lived era was a golden age for indie actors like Lili Taylor and Parker Posey. Taylor got a taste of vampire-hood early on in this movie, and fortunately for us, and for the committee, Posey got her fangs in Blade 3, which I was very happy to see happen. I mean, come on, all those party girls are really vampires at heart.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Am I the only one who "got" this film? I don't usually enjoy movies shot
black and white, nor "artsy fartsy" movies, but this one really had
something to say of great significance (stated explicitly in the final
of the film), and it was also entertaining (at least I found it to
I don't agree with the general reviewer's attitude toward the holocaust scenes. The central message of the film does NOT deny reality to suffering, but explicitly acknowledges it (the fact that the holocaust was "real" and vampires are "not real" is entirely beside the point). Suffering IS real, and is the common thread linking the vampire/addict and the holocaust victim.
Has anyone else noticed that the central philosophy of the movie is not nihilism, but nondualism? How the endless cycle of pain/pleasure (also known as "addiction") controls all of us to one extent or another, and how all pleasure takes place against a background of pain -- an endless cycle of suffering for most of humanity? The film also examines the notion of "free will" in detail, and ultimately concludes that "my will against yours" is the cause of much "evil." Nondualism concludes that "free will" is an oxymoron, and denies reality to the concept of personal volition. This movie reaches much the same conclusion.
Ultimately, the main character's spiritual redemption at the end of the movie demonstrates nondualism, not nihilism (a nihilistic ending would be the suicide or death of the main character in a particular violent fashion). Yet she is redeemed, and realizes that annihilation of "self" (the ego, will, conflict, separation, addiction, the cause of suffering) is the only true path of redemption. This is a spiritual, non-dual message.
If anyone who hasn't heard of the perspective of nondualism is curious, try your favorite search engine and searching on "nonduality" and/or "advaita."
I loved this film. I was an NYU grad student and the process of getting
my doctorate and writing the dissertation and dealing with the
committee were perfectly captured by all the aspects of the vampire's
experience and transformation. The hunger she felt was so accurate. I
recall those days of struggle and grad student doubts about ever
finishing and feeling as if no one would appreciate what I had written.
The writers captured all that perfectly in the scenes of her trying to
write and focus, all while something else was pulling on her and
The film itself was well acted and the emotional atmosphere was captured perfectly. The street scenes incorporated the neighborhood beautifully, especially in the way people in the village actually live there. It was a dark wonderful film and I have recommended it to many people, especially those currently in grad school, writing their dissertations. I hope it is released on DVD soon. I keep looking.
It's not about vampires, it is about resistance, or lack of it. About what
may be right around the corner, about discipline, or about lack of
discipline. About being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It can
to anybody, and it happens to everybody. It's a pyramid
Beautiful black and white composition by Abel Ferrara tied tightly in a wonderfully creative Joe Delia score. Casting the usual Ferrara/indie suspects: Paul Calderone, Edie Falco, Kathryn Erbe, Lili Taylor, Annabella Sciorra. The theme of the movie presents 4 new questions for every one it answers. Do we have a choice? Can we resist? And just when we think we have it all figured out, Christopher Walken has to show up and throw an entirely new lilt on things.
Such is life.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have watched this film twice now and am after the last viewing
slightly less confused than I was, but still rather baffled.
In magazine reviews that I have read of this film the emphasis is always on the use as vampirism as a metaphor for addiction - the first time I watched the film I was surprised as the majority of the film seemed to be about philosophy that I didn't understand and the addiction metaphor, though resulting in two extremely powerful scenes (when the main character is in withdrawal and kills the man trying to help her and also when she is fighting against her addiction in a closet...) seemed overwhelmed by all the talking! Now I think I understand it a little better; addiction can mean how we are addicted to hurting other people because of our own selfishness. The end struck me as strange - at first I presumed the Christian symbolism must mean something else that I couldn't fathom: I suppose I think that people who direct these kinds of films must be entirely nihilistic and not have much time for religion! After some thought I concluded that the only way for Katherine to be redeemed, and for us all to be redeemed is to completely lose our own identity (tying in with Christopher Walken's earlier comment about how one has to blend in and not stick out) - however this is rather too troubling for a girl of little brain such as myself to cope with and I still haven't decided whether I think the end was positive or not! The film's flaw is I think the endless philosophical babble - if one hasn't studied the people Katherine is studying for her course, you will have a hard time keeping up. However the extremely good acting and direction makes up for this. The choice to film it in black and white arguably makes it more disturbing, and the graduation scene is truly scary. The highpoint is undoubtedly Christopher Walken's superb cameo but there is much to enjoy besides his brief appearance.
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