Kiss of the Damned is a vampire thriller directed by Xan Cassavetes (the daughter of actor/director John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands.) Xan herself has appeared in a few films including Alpha Dog and Kiss of the Damned is her feature film directing debut.
Milo Ventimiglia plays Paolo, a writer who meets a young woman called Djuna (played by Joséphine de La Baume) one evening. Djuna is a vampire and she initially tries to reject Paolo’s advances as he is unaware of what she is. Paolo gradually breaks down her defenses however and the two start a torrid love affair. Paolo is smitten and he falls head over heels for Djuna rather quickly. Eventually Djuna’s hunger for human blood inevitably takes control of her and she bites Paolo who foolishly decides to stick around even after learning her secret. Most rational men would head for the hills upon learning their new girlfriend has a predilection for blood but not this guy. He doesn’t even seem that bothered by the fact he is now a vampire himself and a creature of the night. Paolo is a rather strange fellow and he seems to like the idea of being a vampire. Djuna then vows to teach Paolo everything she knows about being a vamp and she introduces him to an underground society of fellow vampires who seem to have parties every night. Things are going well until her sister Mimi (Roxanne Mesquida) turns up to throw a spanner in the works. Mimi has an unstable personality and her erratic behavior drives a wedge between the two lovers. She also seems hellbent on causing trouble for the vampire society which will no doubt lead to more complications and problems. The viewer gets the feeling that Paolo is placing himself in great danger and the story may end in tears.
No explanation is given regarding how powerful these vampires are and they never appear to do anything overtly supernatural. The vampires have the teeth, they drink blood and they are also sensitive to sunlight however so some of the lore is maintained in the film.
If the film completely avoids explaining exactly what these vampires can and cannot do it may lend them an air of mystery.
The trailer is rather heavy on sex and seduction yet rather light on everything else. The eroticism is similar in style to other vampire movies like Tony Scott’s The Hunger or the old Hammer films starring Ingrid Pitt. The lighting used in the final scene in the trailer and the on-screen credits seem heavily inspired by the Hammer horror films from the seventies which is a nice touch. Even the poster for the film is a homage to that era as is some of the music used in the trailer. The viewer may be intrigued by the titillation, homages, odd characters and strange vampire underworld but it is unclear if the movie offers anything else. All those elements need to coalesce into a compelling narrative. Paolo is clearly beguiled by this new world he has uncovered but is he playing with fire? The film will need more than mere titillation to keep the viewer interested and it will also need some character development. It would also be nice to find out what makes Mimi tick and what her motives are.
The target audience for this film appears to be adults who enjoy a good thriller but the film does little to attract those viewers. The trailer is a rather tepid effort and it doesn’t really do enough to entice beyond showing some mild sexual content and a spot of blood. For this reason it may struggle to strike a chord with movie fans.
Kiss of the Damned will be released on May 3rd.
Have a look at the trailer and let us know what you think.