Kiss of the Damned follows in the footsteps of throw back late 1970’s horror that are an emerging trend in the genre. More along the lines of House of the Devil than Hobo with a Shotgun, this intentionally follows everything from the genre. From the poor line delivery, continuity issues, and the standard horror thriller formula, Kiss of the Damned focuses on creating an atmosphere and entertaining an audience rather than enlightening us with a new perspective of the world.
Dwelling in an empty mansion secluded in the woods, Djuna (Josephine de la Baume) lives isolated from the outside world. She encounters writer Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia) while in town and he becomes obsessed with her. When she refuses to let him in the house, he aggressively kisses her through the chained locked door. She bites his tongue. He wants more than a taste vowing to come back. Once he spends another night with her, he cannot leave. Unfortunately, her sister Mimi (Roxane Mesquida) comes back from Amsterdam where she spent time with the wrong crowd. Sisterly drama ensues. Once Paolo has become undead, Djuna assimilates them to their culture through what could be described as the local vampire community. She invites him to a classy cocktail party where one guest offers a toast to what they are drinking. “It is the beluga of politically correct plasma,” one attendee jokes. Xenia (Anna Mouglalis) is a well-known singer with a following. Further plot details involve her and a virgin fan, which I will not reveal.
Kiss of the Damned does an acceptable, though inconsistent job at delivering a quality and memorable horror film. There is some kinky moments in this sexually charged horror feature including Djuna chained to the bed while transforming into a vampire. The sex scenes are a very steamy and erotic affair to behold. With the sultry soap opera antics, sex induced escapes, supernatural characters, and wild dramatic twists, Kiss of the Damned could serve as the long lost connection between 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight. Flashbacks to other events, shown with jarring flashback were confusing.
Screening at the South by Southwest Film Festival as part of their midnight series, Kiss of the Damned is high-octane camp. Filmmaker Xan Cassavetes (daughter of Gena Rowlands and the late John Cassavetes) directed a confident and assertive horror film on female sexual empowerment. The one thing it gets right is the rarely utilized not one, but two strong female characters. Kiss of the Damned sets to make an intentionally over-the-top vampire horror movie and mostly succeeds at doing so. Horror fans will enjoy it and moviegoers who enjoy moody genre pictures. However, not many others outside of those groups will go for it.