Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kiss Of The Damned (2013): A Hammer Homage That Almost Works

~Review by Marie Robinson

Christine and I love vampires, and are prone to watch/read/whatever anything that has to do with them. For some this is a tired trope but we just aren’t bored. Naturally, I was intrigued when I heard about 2012 film Kiss of the Damned, interestingly enough directed by Xan Cassavetes, daughter of John Cassavetes (Rosemary’s Baby).

I’m one of those assholes who literally judges a book by its cover, or in this case, judges a film by its poster; I was admittedly even further inclined to watch this movie after I saw the gorgeous poster for it. The artwork was done by Akiko Stehrenberger, who was won several awards for her movie posters, two for this poster alone. Her shit is awesome; seriously, check her out (http://akikomatic.com/).

The story is very Gothic inspired and focuses on Djuna (Josephine de La Baume), a beautiful young woman living alone in an equally gorgeous mansion in the middle of who knows where (they really don’t tell you the setting). She meets handsome screenwriter Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia), who instantly forces himself upon her.

Luckily Djuna isn’t as annoyed and creeped out as I was and they instantly hit it off. Although they are madly in “love” with each other, Djuna insists they cannot be together because she is a vampire. Paolo thinks the same thing that you or I would think if a love interest said this to us—that she’s crazy; but she proves it to him by chaining herself to a bed and writhing about in a bloodthirsty lust. Even though she begs him not to, Paolo frees her and they make passionate, scary love, at the end of which, Djuna turns him into vampire. Paolo is somehow totally okay with all of this, and moves into the mansion with Djuna and they vow to be undead and in love forever. I’m sorry there is such a blatant attitude to this synopsis, but this is honestly how the story seemed to be moving along to me. Anyway, let’s continue…

Their perfect little romance is disturbed by the unexpected arrival of Djuna’s sister, Mimi (Roxane Mesquida), who is also a vampire. They belong to this high-class, wealthy underground society of vampires who believe that feeding off of humans is—well, inhumane, so they stick to drinking the blood of animals. Mimi, however, rejects this notion and slays and feasts on humans all the time behind her elder’s backs. She floods the house with her reckless and unforgiving attitude, encouraging and instigating those around her to tug at the fibers of their morality.

I keep going back to the idea that I didn’t like this movie but I think I am just letting myself to too caught up with the characters to properly evaluate it. For example, Paolo and Djuna’s romance is very reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet in the sense that they are idiots who think they are madly in love with each other but are really just infatuated. Their relationship is so annoying that I was frustrated enough at times to turn the film off. All the problems the characters have are brought on by themselves; they are what I shall call “rich people problems”. I guess in the end, what I am saying is that there are no sympathetic characters. However, this could be the intention of the filmmakers, which I earnestly hope is the case, because if I had to come to the terms with the fact that that was actually someone’s idea of romance, I’d puke.

Kiss of the Damned doesn’t bring anything new to the vampire trope, and I really didn’t find it all that compelling. The actresses’ French accents made them sound a bit monotone to me and the story was moderately predictable and didn’t inspire too much emotion out of me, just a lot of commenting like, “You’re so fucking dumb,” and “I hate you”.

Perhaps I am being too harsh, so on a lighter note there are two things I am certain I loved about the film: the cinematography and the costume design. Every shot was beautiful, blending colors, contrasting shadows and light, and incorporating brilliant angles. Djuna oozed elegance, not only because the actress herself if quite beautiful, but she was always dressed in the most beautiful gowns and had this gorgeous makeup that complimented her pale skin and lovely autumnal hair.

You can decide for yourself about this film, and let me know what you think, as well! When I need my fix of vampire soap opera, I’ll just stick to True Blood, which I am so glad is back, by the way.

The States will begin showing another bloodsucker flick on the 28th, Byzantium, which I think looks very promising. For more information on that film, I highly recommend you read our dear friend James Gracey’s review on it here: (http://watchinghorrorfilmsfrombehindthecouch.blogspot.com/2013/06/byzantium.html).

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