Vampires go for their PhDs in The Addiction, a horror show that’s heady in both senses of the word. Abel Ferrara’s maverick entry in the never-dead genre is dramatically surprising, stylishly made in black-and-white and well acted, especially by Lili Taylor in the leading role.
Pic dives off the board right into the deep end as Kathleen Conklin (Lili Taylor), a doctoral candidate in philosophy at NYU, is pursued and attacked in a dark alley by a fierce woman who looks like a hooker (Annabella Sciorra). Result is two bloody holes in her neck, followed by agonizing pain and inability to eat. Once she’s passed through to the other side, Kathleen commences her nocturnal rounds.
Punctuating the action with glimpses of such atrocities as the Holocaust, the My Lai massacre and other historical mass slaughters, and loading up the dialogue with references to Nietzsche, Heidegger and other philosophers, filmmakers equate vampirism with the imposition of one’s will on the human race. Raising this line of enquiry to another level is a fellow vampire (Christopher Walken).
Even when the narrative road turns bumpy, what holds the picture together is Taylor. Stalking around in shades most of the time, Taylor makes palpable her character’s intense suffering at the outset as well as, later on, her superhuman strength and resolve. A terrific vampire, Walken is on all too briefly. Ken Kelsch’s monochrome lensing is grittily moody.