THE ADDICTION ***
Directed by Abel Ferrara. Starring Lili Taylor, Christopher Walken, Annabella Sciorra, Edie Falco, Paul Calderon. Horror, USA/Argentina, 82 mins, cert 18.
Released in the UK on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on 25th June 2018.
The 1990s threw up a few vampire movies of note – INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, BLADE and BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA to name but three - but none of them were quite like THE ADDICTION. Shot in black-and-white by director Abel Ferrara (DRILLER KILLER/KING OF NEW YORK) THE ADDICTION uses vampirism as a metaphor for several human conditions - lust, power, suffering, intellect, etc. - that the central character Kathleen (Lili Taylor – THE CONJURING) experiences after being attacked in an alley by the sultry Cananova (Annabelle Sciorra – THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE) and bitten on the neck. A student of philosophy, Kathleen discovers afterwards that all of her senses are heightened and she begins to ponder flawed humanity at a higher level and with more insight than she could before, but she is a now vampire and craves blood, at first injecting it from a sleeping hobo into her system before the she learns about her cravings from a veteran bloodsucker who has taken control of his vampiric tendencies (played by Christopher Walken) and, inevitably, carnage ensues.
A daring and very strange movie THE ADDICTION looks fantastic, the 4K restoration really giving it depth and clarity, and an atmosphere so gloomy and oppressive that the choice to film in monochrome makes total sense. A look at the special features on the disc, which includes an interview with Abel Ferrara, an audio commentary by Ferrara and a brand new documentary filmed by Abel Ferrara about the making of the film - featuring interviews with Lily Taylor and Christopher Walken – shows that everyone seems proud to have been a part of making THE ADDICTION and those involved seem to have thought about and contemplated the film and what it means, which is testament to Abel Ferrara’s vision and talent in getting across messages through the use of metaphor, something proved by a cursory glance at his filmography. However, with such depth and intelligence behind it THE ADDICTION is also a tough film to recommend to anybody not attuned to its arthouse sensibilities, and although Lili Taylor gives a dedicated performance as Kathleen, a woman with questions about human nature and why we seem to be programmed to destroy each other, watching her move from scene to scene quoting philosophical and literary sound bites doesn’t always connect as the script lays the Nietzsche and Dante on too thick, like it is trying too hard to be considered profound but sounding a bit desperate in doing so.
Overall, THE ADDICTION is something of a mixed bag in that artistically it has something to say and is put together in such a way to make you examine not only the subject matter but also the film making process and how to use metaphor. However, when you look at it through the eyes of a viewer looking to be entertained it must be said that THE ADDICTION is something of a chore to sit through, even given the thankfully short running time. As with all Abel Ferrara movies there is artistry at work and in the hands of a lesser director material as rich in subtext as this wouldn’t translate so many of its nuances in quite the same way but being technically brilliant doesn’t always make for a positive viewing experience, and THE ADDICTION is a cold and sometimes impenetrable film that offers up lots of questions about what it means to be human but the answers are muddled up in the interpretation of what is being said or shown on the screen, leaving it open for you to return to it to get more out of it on future viewings, but whether you have the patience for a second or third watch is a matter for your own tolerance of arthouse cinema or, depending on your point of view, pretentious film making.
Read Paul Risker's conversation with ADDICTION director Abel Ferrara HERE
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