Like if Jenny Holzer wrote film reviews. The Parallax Review is a website dedicated to dissecting movies in terms of cultural context, ideology, aesthetics, and more. From Stalker to Hackers and beyond! Run by your girl, @okaythanksmaria

Kiss of the Damned (2012)


 This review is part of a series: 31 Days of Horror Directed by Women.

Ok, the first 20 minutes of Kiss of the Damned reminds me of two different but related TikTok trends. The first is where someone is at, like, the grocery store, or on the train, or in a bookshop and a Lana Del Rey song plays in the background and the video has text overlaid like "me romanticizing my trip to the thrift store by listening to Lana Del Rey" and the person in the video looks all moody and sad. The second trend is just someone doing something odd or antisocial or whatever, and an audio excerpt from Lana's "Ride" song goes "I am fucking crazy...but I'm free."

what are the best snacks from trader joe’s

♬ Mariners Apartment Complex - Lana Del Rey

##greenscreen and that’s on manic episodes✨ I’ll let y’all know if I get murdered­čą░

♬ i am fckin crazy - tan :)

The first 15 minutes of Kiss of the Damned could easily be summed up in two separate TikTok videos using these two sounds. First, Djuna (Jos├ęphine de La Baume) and Paulo (Milo Ventimiglia) moodily catch each other's eyes at a video rental store—A VIDEO RENTAL STORE, in 2012—and seem to fall in love immediately. Cue Lana's Mariners Apartment Complex audio, and add the caption:

"Romanticizing my trip to the video rental store by listening to Lana and accidentally fell in love. ­čą░"

Right after their random video store meeting, Paolo appears to be ready to literally risk it all for Djuna. She tries to keep him away from her because she's a VAMPIRE who will KILL HIM once she's aroused. Even so, he shows up to her house and she opens the door a crack, but keeps the chain lock engaged because she doesn't want to let him in. So logically they start frantically kissing between the crack in the door. Of course, it all eventually gets too hot and heavy for Djuna, her vampire senses kick in, and she cuts Paolo's lip with one of her fangs. They part ways for the night but he returns the next day anyway...because he's fucking crazy.

It's really not just these first fifteen minutes that feel ridiculous, though. In fact this whole movie has a cringe energy that I both respect and despise. It's kind of like if someone watched Twilight and a few Italian thrillers, and was like, Okay, bet. I'm gonna make a bougie vampire movie but make it horror! This is where I remind or inform you that this film is directed by Xan Cassavetes, daughter of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands. Mmm, okay, nepotism! You tried it!

The film doesn't make ANY sense I have No Idea why these characters do any of the things they do! It's not even bad enough to be entertaining, like Twilight is. It's mostly just boring. I mean, really, there's a brief threesome scene that sterile and bland I literally got angry. Vampires are the epitome of sexual energy, okay? That is a fact this movie seems to be hyperaware of while being fully UNABLE to portray the level of sexiness it needs to be believable or engaging.

It has the energy of an Apple commercial, but instead of Apple products, they're selling the #vampirelifestyle. It's not good, it's very white, it looks nothing like the real world, and it has the AUDACITY to throw a bunch of dramatic scenes in my face without giving me any sort of tangible character motivation or interesting plot mechanisms. I have absolutely no idea what is moving any of these characters forward, or even what the plot of the movie is!!!!

The ending finally arrives: I have no idea what it's significance is, but at least the movie is over. My favorite character is the mysterious but alluring non-vampire caretaker of Djuna's house. She seems like the only sane person surrounded by very angsty vampires. Every other character is acting with an insane level of intensity the entire movie, and not even in a fun way. This film is, ironically, bloodless. It has no teeth, no bite, no sex appeal. It somehow made me NOT interested in watching Milo Ventimiglia be a shirtless vampire on screen. How is that even possible?????

NOTHING happens but everyone is super moody and dramatic, like embarrassing teenagers. I literally CAN NOT tell you the plot of this film if I tried. And you know what? I think I've ripped into it enough. If I haven't made it clear enough already: don't bother with this meandering mess of a vampire tale, please. I suffered through it so you don't have to. Now I'm going to walk to the grocery store while listening to Lana Del Rey, thank you very much.