Like all film genres, there are a myriad of ways a horror movie can fail. Perhaps the most egregious is when a story gets laughs rather than screams; mocking laughter kills a horror tale. But equally as damaging is the horror film that bores, and usually, this is born out of excessive self-seriousness.
Kiss of the Damned
I had no expectations for 2012’s Kiss of the Damned. Two things drew me in–I’m a sucker for vampire movies (yes, dad joke intended) and the stylized poster. Unfortunately, the poster is the only bit of quality here.
The premise is straight-forward. Djuna lives in a relatively secluded Connecticut mansion, she falls in love with a human (Paolo), turns him, then her rebellious sister Mimi arrives bringing down any hope for peace the two protagonists might have. Like nearly all high style vampire stories, Kiss of the Damned is painfully earnest melodrama.
It isn’t that the story unfolds slowly. A film can and should take its time. Rather, it’s that this film drags on via needless exposition. The dialogue here is profoundly bad, and when coupled with the dreadful acting, we get an accidentally perfect late-60s Italian softcore porn soap opera. For example, through a party scene the vampire worldbuilding is conveyed to the audience through clunky, painfully unnatural dialogue. What makes this scene a nightmare is all the information given is essentially left to rot as writer/director Xan Cassavetes moves us for no reason to the longest no-sex, heavy-petting three-way you’ll ever see. There is only one moment of genuine eroticism in this film–it comes at the beginning, and lasts only a few seconds before laughter sets in. We are given not a love-story but a lust-story (an aggressively vanilla one) tempered in adolescent sibling rivalry.
What’s infuriating about this film, you want to believe there’s a clear intention by Cassavetes to make some sort of retro-homage. However, time and again, you realize this isn’t parody or allusion; this is lazy filmmaking. There are zero stakes here, literally and figuratively. At no point are any of the vampires in any danger from others. At no point are any of the human characters anything more than fleeting, superficial moments of violence. It’s only at film’s end that anything approaching urgency occurs given to us as an accident, a grotesquely unsatisfying randomness masquerading as sinister comeuppance.
This is a terrible movie: stupid, lazy, and boring.