When movie writer Paolo, played by the always excellent Milo Ventimiglia, meets the mysterious and devastatingly beautiful Djuna (Joséphine de La Baume) he is instantly encapsulated but he has no idea of the dark secrets this sad and seemingly aloof woman is hiding.
Djuna is in fact a vampire hiding away in a massive mansion from the human world which hates her and her kind however her instant sexual attraction to Paolo accelerates their relationship and soon not only has she revealed her true self to him but he has joined her as one of the undead.
As there love grows the cultured couple enjoy each other and feeding from the animals in the forest but their fragile relationship is suddenly tested by the arrival of Djuna’s sister Mimi (Rubber and Sennentuntschi star Roxane Mesquida) a violent carnal chaotic force of nature completely at odds with her sibling in every sense.
The trio find themselves on a destructive path that can ultimately only lead to pain and misery as they set about damaging not only each other but the lives of those around them.
Although there are many, many modern day vampire movies in Kiss of The Damned writer and director Xan Cassavetes has managed to deliver something that not only looks amazing but has an innovative and interesting story making it well above the fanged failures that many other directors have delivered.
Stylishly shot and oozing sex the decadent lifestyle of the vampires rhymes perfectly with the films look which evokes the Italian horror of the 60’s and 70’s yet the eclectic soundtrack which ranges from classical to punk to techno adds another layer making the movie all the more well formed.
Keeping the focus firmly on the characters gives added bite to Kiss of the Damned helped by the compelling performances of the two female leads that play sisters so radically different yet strikingly similar, as if two sides of the same blood soaked coin.
The excellent Roxane Mesquida revels in playing Mimi her jet black hair and revealing outfits summing up her dark sexual appetite that is nearly as ravenous as her lust for blood, yet embedding her with an edge of tragedy as she becomes lost in her own anarchy.
Opposite this Joséphine de La Baume’s Djuna is a romantic gothic ideal of vampirism her flowing dresses, wilting looks and extreme emotion harking back to the world of Bram Stoker yet still she has a vicious dark heart as capable of evil acts as her sibling.
Stuck between them is Milo Ventimiglia’s Paolo a man who ironically becomes more human once he is turned into a vampire. The fourth silent character is the house itself a grand foreboding structure surrounded by wild nature and a still calming lake. The home seeps atmosphere into every scene giving the film a sense of history far beyond what we are watching and it is easy to see why it inspired Cassavetes to write the script in the first place.
Balancing brilliant crafted and thought provoking characters with a bold artistic vision Kiss of the Damned not only proves what a fine filmmaker Xan Cassavetes is but shows that it is still possible to make a vampire movie that doesn’t suck.
Read our interview with Kiss of the Damned writer and director Xan Cassavetes right Here