KISS OF THE DAMNED (REVIEW)
Dir. Xan Cassavetes
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
KISS OF THE DAMNED picks up where most vampire films of late fell down. Blood, lust and their only morality in survival, the vampire code pre TWILIGHT held firmly in plain sight and hidden in the shadows of human life.
Paulo (Milo Ventimiglia) falls madly in love with Djuna (Josephine de La Baume) at first sight. Hunting her down its apparent there is more than just sorry words keeping them apart. When Paulo’s persistence finally breaks open the door, he is welcomed into the vampire elite. Djuna proves a humanely vampire as she seeks the blood of deer and anything other than the blood of the innocents but when her sister Mimi (Roxane Mesquida) turns up seeking solace.
The polar opposite to Djuna, she seeks the flesh of others and to bring about the downfall of the legacies built by her kin. The bloodthirsty sister does everything in her path to bring about the raw nature of the species and will stop at nothing to get her own way.
A love story that becomes an uncomfortable triangle of establishment and rebellion, Paulo soon realises he has to fight for his love, or his cravings.
From the opening credits to the very end, KISS OF THE DAMNED is a lustful journey through passion and blood thirst that brings a fresh start to the genre so mocked since Bella and Edward glistened in the sun. There is no fairy dust here. Milo plays the charismatic naïve vampire well and La Baume’s beauty gets lost as it is Roxane who leads the way in her quest for ‘freedom’ and steals the screen, mostly with blood spill.
Xan Cassavetes sets a dark and moody gothic thriller with flare and style that puts the vampire tale back on the map as one of horrors greatest monsters. Shot beautifully with artistic talent, the scenes of mutilation come across like a Da Vinci in the making. The 70’s tone is never let go with a wardrobe straight from Vogue circa 1970 and a soundtrack so enigmatic you will want to watch the film for the sound alone. With its score as beautiful as it’s cast, it’s hard not to find KISS... to be more than a very twisted Chanel advert and its plot may have been played through a million times before but it is the style and love placed behind the camera that makes this such a needed addition to any collection.
A film to match even the greatest Hammer Horror films, KISS OF THE DAMNED is to be regarded as a master class of beauty and cinematic finesse. It’s lack of regard for human life in favour of the grandest of luxuries only shows testament to what the vampire love story has become and Cassavetes has disregarded the norm for a sex-fuelled, bloodthirsty assault on the tried and tested formula.