Kiss of the Damned pays homage to Italian horror cinema and Hammer Horror films of the 1970's, minus a lot of the cheesy qualities that plagued some of those films, most of which were due to budget restraints. This film doesn't boast a huge budget either, but clearly director Alexandra "Xan" Cassavetes knows how to effectively spend that small budget. No doubt her famous families background in cinema has given her the necessary tools to be a talented director in her own right. Her brother Nick Cassavetes directed Alpha Dog and the Notebook, her father was Guy Woodhouse in Rosemary's Baby, and she has previously made a documentary, but her Silver Screen directorial debut is impressive.
Albeit a vampire movie, it is a quintessential vampire movie, sticking to the traditional mythos that horror fans have come to expect. None of this Twilight nonsense of sparkling in daylight and playing baseball. Kiss of the Damned vampires are brooding, sad and sexy. This films oozes sexuality, as it should. In sticking to the source material of Bram Stoker's Dracula, vampire stories should be a love story at the core, sensual, provocative, intense, sad and dark. This movie is all of those things, so in regards to being a traditional vampire story , it is one. Some may be displeased that this story doesn't push the envelope or tell a story we haven't really seen before, I personally don't mind. Vampires aren't real, you can really only do so much with vampire stories and they have kind of all been done already.
Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes, Rocky Balboa) as Paolo gives a strong performance as he usually does, and has great chemistry with the female lead Josephine de La Baume as Djuna (Johnny English Reborn, Boogie Woogie). She is incredibly sexy, and plays a very provocative and enticing mistress of the dark. The relationship between the two is magnetic and enjoyable to watch. Roxane Mesquida (Rubber, The Last Mistress) as Mimi is an excellent complication for these two and their new found love for one another. The movie as a whole is enjoyable to watch (if you like hot female nudity and bloody gore, this is the best I've seen in a vampire movie in awhile, rivaling maybe only the HBO series True Blood) especially because of the superb Cinematography. Tobias Datum (with a long list of credits, this being his biggest feature to date) does an immaculate job setting up shot compositions and executing technical skill that most American movies lack. This movie looks foreign and old, only in the sense of camera movement. There are forced zooms and push ins that haven't really been utilized in cinema since the `70's that work brilliantly in this film. If I believed in the Oscars bulls***, Tobias should be nominated for best Cinematographer. The soundtrack for this movie is great as well. I was very pleased that the songs used in the trailer for this movie are actually in the film as well, which is rarely done. "Wucan" by Black Mountain is the most prominent song in the trailer and is displayed in a cool way in the film. Most aspects of this film work really well and are a welcome refreshment from a genre that has been plagued with too many failures in the last decade.
If you like Hammer Horror films, traditional vampire films, True Blood, hot female nudity, and intense love stories with a bumpy road ahead of them, this is something you'll most likely enjoy. I have to note that I think some people may have a problem with the frenetic editing and somewhat slow pacing. Like I said, this feels like a foreign film, no fast paced action or quick moving story that beats one over the head. Perhaps that for me, is part of the charm of this movie. And I don't doubt that some will have a problem with the denouement, but I liked it, and you may too. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.