Kiss of the Damned opens with a primitive image of a woman running through the woods, POV-style, hunting a rabbit. Once she ascends upon her prey, she takes his life with a wretched force, and bathes happily in the aftermath; her blood-soaked grin gracing the screen in quick flashes, amongst the same woman sleeping during the daytime. Another woman walks in who’s assumed to be the hired help, and informs the woman that the video store has called, and requested that she return her movies.
Upon arriving at the store, an initial attraction forms between Djuna, the aforementioned woman, and Paolo. Lust quickly turns to love, and Djuna admits that she does not have a “skin condition” but is, in fact, a creature of the night. Paolo, consumed by love, decides he’ll give up his life, and walk next to her in the shadows until the end of time. Together, they would exist happily forever, living off of wild life, and hiding their true identities from the day walkers around them. It seems that all will be serene for all of eternity, until one night, when there is a knock at the door.
Djuna’s sister Mimi saunters into the room, not really asking, but rather demanding, a room in Djuna’s lavish mansion, despite Djuna’s initial rejections. After reluctantly agreeing to allow her sister to stay with her, Djuna warns Paolo that her sister is a bad seed, and would only cause trouble for the two of them in the long run. Paolo brushes the warning off as paranoia and a normal family disruption between siblings, and asks that they try to get along. However, as time goes on, Mimi proves Djuna’s theory right, more and more. Mimi is not like her sister–she does not wish to hide her vampiricsm from the humans. She’d rather display it. Mimi loves to eat on humans, and treat their lives with little respect, much to the dismay of Djuna’s conservative nature.
One of the film’s strongest points is its sex scenes. They are graphic, drawn-out, and utterly refreshing. Movies like the Twilight series that are so popular lately are told from such a prude and pure perspective that vampires have been slowly made less and less vicious, carnivorous, and most of all, sexual. Most modern day nosferatus are more about being eternally handsome, rather than being bloodsuckers. It’s exciting to see Kiss of the Damned take vampires back to their sexually insatiable selves again.
Kiss of the Damned is also very aesthetically pleasing. Director Xan Cassavetes uses mirrors and shadows in a playful manner (although it’s kind of odd how the vampires have reflections) that’s very visually stimulating, and works to keep the audience interested during some of the slower moments.
The only real problem is the ending. The entire film is centered around the love triangle between Paolo, Djuna and Mimi, along with the added dynamic of Mimi’s erratic behavior. There is such an emphasis on the battle betwixt Djuna and Mimi that when the final showdown happens (if you can call it that), the anticipation falls flat. The final act is so abrupt and easily conclusive that it winds up being disappointing, which is such a shame for a new vampire film that has so much potential.