Addiction, The: Abel Ferrara’s Noir Vampire Thriller, Starring Christopher Walken, Lili Taylor, Edie Falco

In The Addiction, a darkly humorous noir made with a characteristically hard-edged independent spirit, Abel Ferrara, a director with penchant for noir and gore, converts the old vampire mythology into a modern psychological horror story.

The film succeeds in its visual aspirations but is undermined by its intellectual pretensions, straining in its attempt to link vampirism, the Holocaust, and Kierkegaardian philosophy.

Lili Taylor plays Kathleen, a NYU philosophy student about to receive her doctorate. The story begins with her watching a slide presentation of the My Lai massacre, a horror she regards as a manifestation of collective rather than personal guilt of the man in charge, Lt. William Calley.

One evening, walking to her East Village basement apartment, a woman in an elegant evening dress (Annabella Sciorra) greets her in a friendly manner, then swiftly pushes her down into a dark staircase and bites her neck. After a sickness diagnosed as anemia, Kathleen becomes a vampire with hunger for blood. Her new state alters her view of life, realizing that evil is the most addictive drug.

Reflecting Ferrara’s obsession with sin, guilt, and redemption, the film acknowledges the capacity for evil, urging viewers to take full responsibility–or else there will be no way of arresting its diffusion from generation to generation.

Visually, the film is more arresting than thematically. Shot in high-contrast black and white, it could be described as a supernatural thriller, one that delivers the gory entertainment usually associated with Ferrara’s work (“Bad Lieutenant,” “King of New York”).

Like Nadja, Michael Almereyda’s still underestimated noir, some of the film’s campy dialogue (often unintentional here) lingers in mind. Take, for example, when Christopher Walken’s tough vampire Pelna advice to Kathleen: “Eternity is a long time, get used to it.”

Credits

Running Time: 81 minutes

Distributor: October Films
Director: Abel Ferrara
Producers: Denis Hann, Fernando Sulichin, Russell Simmons, Preston Holmes
Screenplay: Nicholas St. John
Camera: Ken Kelsch
Editing: Mayin Lo
Costume design: Melinda Eshelman
Music: Joe Delia
Production Design: Charles Lagola

Cast:

Kathleen (Lili Taylor)
Pelna (Christopher Walken)
Jean (Edie Falco)
Casanova (Annabella Sciorra)