A trashy vampire flick in art-film drag, Kiss of the Damned satisfies on neither level. Drawing on a host of Euro-horror influences, including but far from limited to a synth score reminiscent of Dario Argento’s Goblin-performed soundtracks, Xan Cassavetes’s pastiche follows lonely bloodsucker Djuna (Josephine de la Baume) as she whiles away her existence in an upstate New York mansion watching classic Hollywood flicks. Meeting handsome screenwriter Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia) at a local video store, she fucks and turns him in rapid succession, and the two seem headed for eternal domestic bliss until the sudden arrival of Djuna’s estranged bad-girl sis, Mimi (Roxane Mesquida). The unwelcome visitor’s appetites for wild sex and human blood (the other vamps in the movie have an ethical quandary about cannibalistic vampirism) and her seduction of Paolo soon threaten to rip our couple apart, as well as upend the local undead community.
Cassavetes puts over this simple, poorly acted story with moody lighting, self-consciously “beautiful” gore and an annoying penchant for impressionistic quick-cut flashbacks, all of which get in the way of, rather than enhance, the supposed fun. It’s not a total loss, though: The sex scenes are hot.
May 17-23, 2013