Plot: Kathleen (Lili Taylor) is a college student with a deep interest in philosophy, but she finds herself with a new obsession after a strange encounter. As she walks home after class, she is lured into an alley by Casanova (Annabella Sciorra) and bitten, drawing heavy blood and leaving Kathleen disoriented. In the wake of the bite, she feels very different and quite ill, but no routine medical issues seem to explain her condition. As she soon discovers, the encounter has left her with a compulsive hunger, one that pushes her to do things she never imagined. As the changes intensify and the obsession to feed her hunger rises, what will become of Kathleen and has this new condition damned her to a cursed existence or opened up a new world for her?
Entertainment Value: Abel Ferrara’s vision of vampirism is stylish, atmospheric, and more than a little pretentious, offering a vivid, unique, and much needed fresh take on the well worn genre. I love the visuals and atmosphere of The Addiction, as the black & white images are stark and fascinating, adding an artistic flair to the entire movie that enhances the experience. The choice of black & white here is no gimmick either, as the visuals shine and the use of shadows and contrast is excellent, one of the main reasons the movie works so well. The “arthouse vampire” vibe carries over the characters and dialogue, with a serious tone and emphasis on philosophical elements. Of course, these are rather simplistic ideas, but given that Kathleen is a college student, not an expert, that makes sense. But the movie does feel pretentious at times, as it pushes these basic bits of philosophy as some kind of deep experience, which just doesn’t ring true, all things considered. A small price to pay however, given how effective the visuals and mood of The Addiction are, not to mention a skilled cast that brings this bleak vision to life.
Lily Taylor plays our lead Kathleen and seems like an ideal choice, as she disappears into the role and is able to convey the transition quite well. I think her performances shines as she tries to understand the changes she is going through, though she is also quote good once she more fully embraces her darker side. Her almost gentle, inquisitive persona gives us a most unique vampire, one that Taylor puts her personal stamp on and really embodies. She is the heart and soul of The Addiction, a strong lead performance that anchors the entire movie. As usual however, Christopher Walken is able to work magic even with a smaller role and he steals his scenes here, as a veteran vampire with all kinds of oddball wisdom. His presence kicks in some much needed humor and off the wall presence, but it feels at home in the material, so it isn’t like his performance is so strange, it disrupts the tone. Annabella Sciorra, Edie Falco, Paul Calderon, Michael Imperioli, and Kathryn Erbe also appear in this one. While it is a little inconsistent and pretentious, The Addiction is a rare shakeup of the tired vampire genre, but fans of both artistic indie cinema and vampire movies should find more than than enough to like with this film.