Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Kiss of the Damned

Bloody awful.

May 3, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1376448-Kiss_Damned_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

When screenwriter Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia) meets Djuna (Joséphine de la Baume) in a Connecticut video store (remember them?), one would think that he, like any other average consumer of pop culture, would be somewhat clued into her true identity. This weird chick is a loner, has a strange accent, likes bizarro old black-and-white films, translates arcane foreign writing, and has a skin condition which necessitates her avoiding the sun. Duh, she’s a vampire!

After a night of, er, love, Paolo becomes a bloodsucker too, besotted by Djuna and his strange new, eternal world. But their crimson idyll is shattered with the appearance of the well-meaning Djuna’s truly evil, uncontrollable sister Mimi (Roxane Mesquida), who just likes to make trouble. It becomes the duty of Xenia (Anna Mougalis), the elegant ringleader of the vampires (and off-Broadway actress!), to step in and take control of the situation.

Xan Cassavetes, the daughter of director John and actress Gena Rowlands, obviously thinks she’s reinventing the wheel with this would-be sophisticated, trashily pretentious epic about ultra-chic bloodsuckers. Kiss of the Damned has the most stale, been-there-seen-that vibe to it, especially for anyone familiar with Daughters of Darkness or The Hunger (which even in 1983 felt empty and enervated). Shot in relentlessly obfuscating dark tones, it strives for an eerie mystery that is quickly destroyed every time any character opens his or her mouth to deliver yet another wince-inducing, failed epigram. (“Does the existence of Mr. Hyde make Dr. Jekyll any less of a monster?” “You’re sipping the beluga of politically correct plasma!”)

What Cassavetes has inherited from her famous dad is his erratic, often turtle-like sense of pacing, as the camera sits statically, waiting for the actors to perhaps improv something, anything. (This writer freely confesses that he has always found John Cassavetes’ vaunted reputation a decided puzzlement. Sure, he pioneered verité storytelling, but it’s also the responsibility of a filmmaker to engage the viewer.)

And, coming from a female director, this is a strangely degrading, misogynist work, with none of the numerous women in it coming off as anything but freaks, mega-bitches or bimbos, as Cassavetes revels in their many spats and violent, bloody tussles. For Djuna’s first vampire reveal to Paolo, the auteur has her handcuffed and writhing in bra and panties, as if to say I’ll give you Victoria’s Secret! The actresses all seem to be channeling Eva Green at her most gothic, with highly varying degrees of success.

If the existence of the undead is indeed real, then the great writer Djuna Barnes, wherever she is, must be wondering what she ever did to deserve the questionable homage given here by the lead character’s name. The Twilight franchise just reached its torturous end, begging the question: Did we really need this? I, for one, would like to call a moratorium on all vampire-related films for at least another decade.


Film Review: Kiss of the Damned

Bloody awful.

May 3, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1376448-Kiss_Damned_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

When screenwriter Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia) meets Djuna (Joséphine de la Baume) in a Connecticut video store (remember them?), one would think that he, like any other average consumer of pop culture, would be somewhat clued into her true identity. This weird chick is a loner, has a strange accent, likes bizarro old black-and-white films, translates arcane foreign writing, and has a skin condition which necessitates her avoiding the sun. Duh, she’s a vampire!

After a night of, er, love, Paolo becomes a bloodsucker too, besotted by Djuna and his strange new, eternal world. But their crimson idyll is shattered with the appearance of the well-meaning Djuna’s truly evil, uncontrollable sister Mimi (Roxane Mesquida), who just likes to make trouble. It becomes the duty of Xenia (Anna Mougalis), the elegant ringleader of the vampires (and off-Broadway actress!), to step in and take control of the situation.

Xan Cassavetes, the daughter of director John and actress Gena Rowlands, obviously thinks she’s reinventing the wheel with this would-be sophisticated, trashily pretentious epic about ultra-chic bloodsuckers. Kiss of the Damned has the most stale, been-there-seen-that vibe to it, especially for anyone familiar with Daughters of Darkness or The Hunger (which even in 1983 felt empty and enervated). Shot in relentlessly obfuscating dark tones, it strives for an eerie mystery that is quickly destroyed every time any character opens his or her mouth to deliver yet another wince-inducing, failed epigram. (“Does the existence of Mr. Hyde make Dr. Jekyll any less of a monster?” “You’re sipping the beluga of politically correct plasma!”)

What Cassavetes has inherited from her famous dad is his erratic, often turtle-like sense of pacing, as the camera sits statically, waiting for the actors to perhaps improv something, anything. (This writer freely confesses that he has always found John Cassavetes’ vaunted reputation a decided puzzlement. Sure, he pioneered verité storytelling, but it’s also the responsibility of a filmmaker to engage the viewer.)

And, coming from a female director, this is a strangely degrading, misogynist work, with none of the numerous women in it coming off as anything but freaks, mega-bitches or bimbos, as Cassavetes revels in their many spats and violent, bloody tussles. For Djuna’s first vampire reveal to Paolo, the auteur has her handcuffed and writhing in bra and panties, as if to say I’ll give you Victoria’s Secret! The actresses all seem to be channeling Eva Green at her most gothic, with highly varying degrees of success.

If the existence of the undead is indeed real, then the great writer Djuna Barnes, wherever she is, must be wondering what she ever did to deserve the questionable homage given here by the lead character’s name. The Twilight franchise just reached its torturous end, begging the question: Did we really need this? I, for one, would like to call a moratorium on all vampire-related films for at least another decade.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

The Two Faces of January
Film Review: The Two Faces of January

Good pulp yarn about three disparate Americans—an aging con man, his lovely young wife, and an impetuous tour guide—who meet their destiny among the ancient ruins of Greece. More »

Tazza 2: The Hidden Card
Film Review: Tazza 2: The Hidden Card

Wildly entertaining and kaleidoscopic, this sequel to a Korean hit is strictly aces. More »

Days and Nights
Film Review: Days and Nights

This god-awful reimagining of a Chekhov masterpiece will only have you yearning to see Sidney Lumet's underrated 1968 version. More »

Jimi: All Is by My Side
Film Review: Jimi: All Is by My Side

John Ridley’s fractured and narrowcast, unauthorized Jimi Hendrix biopic (read: no Hendrix compositions) wrongly assumes that André Benjamin’s intuitive inhabiting of the musician’s skittish soul will entice audiences as much as it does the women around him. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Equalizer Review
Film Review: The Equalizer

Former agent is drawn out of hiding to fight a Russian gang in a reboot of the 1980s television series. More »

The Boxtrolls
Film Review: The Boxtrolls

Another amazingly meticulous and stylish stop-motion tale from the Laika studio, this time focusing on a boy adopted by a population of maligned underground trolls. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here