Kiss of the Damned has a promising pedigree. The director, Xan Cassavetes, is the daughter of John Cassavetes, so it’s no surprise that she gets how to do an homage to movies from the 70s. In this case, Italian horror. But she’s also the daughter of Gena Rowlands, so you’d think she’d know the importance of casting good actresses, particularly in a movie about three female vampires.
Unfortunately, this occasionally intriguing homage can’t bear up under the weight of its three awkward performances. It opens promisingly enough with Josephine de la Baume, unconventionally lovely in the way that people are lovely in movies made 40 years ago, as a vampire who reluctantly falls in love because sometimes guys are just so darn persistent. There’s enough style and sexual heat in these early scenes that you might think you’re in for an adult version of Twilight (pictured). Sounds good! Remember that scene in Coppola’s Dracula movie when all the naked vampire chicks writhe invitingly around Keanu Reeves? I sure do.
But then Roxane Mesquida shows up as the bad sister vampire. In the surreal horror movie Rubber, her nearly impenetrable accent lent a touch of hilarity, particularly when she tried to coax the killer out of a house by voicing a booby-trapped mannequin. But here her accent just makes her hard to understand. I suppose bad English in an English-language movie is another way to represent the exotic, timeless, and worldly quality of a vampire.
Finally, there’s Anna Mouglalis as the mother figure standing between the sisters. Mouglalis has a long list of credits, which includes playing Coco Chanel to Mads Mikkelsen’s Igor Stravinsky. But by the time she’s called in to lend some gravity to these squabbling vampire sisters, Kiss of the Damned has long since left the realm of the sexy and stylish and wandered into a maze of camp and bad acting. I suppose it is an adult version of Twilight after all.
Kiss of the Damned is available to watch instantly at Amazon.com.