The Addiction

Director: Abel Ferrara
Screenwriters: Nicholas St. John

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


A potential pitfall of the “vampire movie” is that the haste to come up with a new angle will destroy the unique elements that have kept the genre so popular. In his latest film, The Addiction, Abel Ferrara has managed to keep the original horror very much intact (and then some!) while updating the traditional story to a contemporary setting.

We are introduced to Kathleen Conklin, a doctoral candidate who enjoys her studies and hanging out with her friends. On her way home from class one day, Kathleen is abducted by a strange woman and dragged into an alley. With great strength, her attacker holds Kathleen down and bites her neck, leaving two holes gushing blood.

At the hospital, the doctors dress her wounds and send her on her way, baffled by the strange lacerations. In the following days, a strange and frightening disease subjects her body and soul to the fever and sickness of vampirism. As her own spirit is overcome, Kathleen hits the streets of New York, looking for the blood to satisfy her addiction. As she seduces and ravishes victim after victim, her sickness leaves her, and a new, focused feeling of strength sets in. Energized, Kathleen now determines to fit into society and recommences her studies with vigor. She successfully defends her thesis, and to celebrate invites many of her friends and colleagues, alive and undead, to a triumphant party.

The Addiction is a pervasively chilling film with remarkable performances by Lili Taylor as Kathleen Conklin, and Christopher Walken and Annabella Sciorra as more experienced, urbane vampires who have learned to blend into society to better prey on its weaknesses. The metaphor of vampirism as an addiction like heroin is appropriate and convincing here—when you have an addiction, you try to appear like a functioning member of society, even though you will do anything to get a fix. Most significantly perhaps, you become convinced that you are getting not weaker but better, the more you feed your habit.

Shot in moody black and white, The Addiction is set in a New York City of grainy shadows and dark recesses, where good and evil are often hard to distinguish through the gloom, and the grim reality of the urban addict is something far worse than one can imagine.

— Christian Gaines

Screening Details

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