Review: Kiss of the Damned (2012)

Vampires, they’re a sexy bunch ain’t they?

Of all the villains to grace the big screen, vampires are the ones most often portrayed as eternally beautiful, desirable and with an irresistible allure that makes them almost perfect predators.

Now I’m obviously not speaking of the white-washed, bloodless, toothless Twilight bunch (you all know I can’t stand that shit), but vamps like the classic Sir Christopher, the sublime Chris Sarandon and even the sexed-up country vamps in True Blood are all meant to rile up the average libido.

The vamps in Kiss of the Damned are no exception, they’re basically walking genitalia…if genitalia constantly waxed philosophical and walked everywhere in slow motion.

Yeah, this is one of those movies.

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Now, now, don’t get me wrong, I like me an artsy horror film every once and a while as they tend to be, at the very least, visually beautiful. Kiss of  the Damned is most definitely nice to look at, if for no other reason than that, the two leads (Joséphine de La Baume & Milo Ventimiglia) are so beautiful together, it’s almost hard to believe they’re real, and their chemistry is admittedly off the charts.

As Djuna (the vampire) and Paolo (the human screenwriter), they meet during a late night visit to the video store and immediately fall into passionate lust. Of course Djuna must deny her throbbing lady bits for fear that she might hurt Paolo with her undead urges. This denial, naturally, makes Paolo desire her more, and he becomes willing to do anything to be with her…including having his head smushed between a two doors so he can desperately embrace the object of his affection…a scene  which I believe is meant to be sexy but just comes off as silly.

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Ventimiglia, an accomplished actor in his own right, portrays the lovesick Paolo realistically enough to make any lady wanna take him home (it also helps that he’s crazy beautiful), but de La Baume’s cool disaffected beauty lacks any real depth, making it hard to relate or even care about her stunning but otherwise empty Djuna.

Directed by Xan Cassavetes (daughter of legendary Hollywood power couple John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands), Kiss of the Damned shows a lot of promise for a first time director, as she’s produced a stunning, stylish throwback to old school Europeen vampire films (think Daughters of Darkness only less awesome). The only problem is that there is very little here besides beauty to sink your teeth into, despite the sex and death (and there is an abundance of both) Kiss of the Damned is an ultimately hollow experience.

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Having said that, I can’t flat out not recommend this flick, because in a vast sea of run of the mill horror, Kiss of the Damned is a different kind of horror experience and not a wholly unpleasant one at that. It’s not great, not by any stretch of the imagination, but this is the type of movie best enjoyed with a glass of wine and very few expectations as a naughty, if pretentious, guilty pleasure.

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