Sometimes I ponder the intricacies of the horror genre after watching a really solid title, and I'm grateful to relate to the director's vision. I'm left wondering also, after experiencing a rather bland and boring attempt of a film - this is where Kiss of the Vampire makes its introduction, stage left.
Vampire films can generally be cataloged by time period, ranging from the depiction of Nosferatu in the silent era, the classic Universal era with stars like Bela Lugosi, the many versions brought to you by Hammer, the vampire revival in the 1980s, and of course the more modern and up to date creatures made possible by films like Blade and Underworld. I could easily break down the in's and out's contained within each era to offer more insight, but the point I'm making is that with each re-telling of a vampiric story there are clearly defined categories. To make any artistic progress within the film industry we must look past these "defined categories" and strive to create something new and refreshing; this is not my quarrel with Kiss of the Vampire.
The first thing I noticed that this film was devoid of was atmosphere...it has none. I must confess that I am no film major nor can I dazzle others with the industry's jargon and slang terms for motion blurs and set lighting. However, through the eyes of a common viewer and both a seasoned and appreciative horror fanatic, what hurts this film most was the lack of mood lighting. Each environment, in terms of lighting and emotion, is no different than the last. In my opinion, the romanticism that encompasses a vampire is part of what makes him/her so alluring. Why would the director choose to leave this out? A second observation of mine involved the cast...more importantly, the acting. I could not bring myself to get on board with what the actors/actresses were selling. Without describing the plot, there were too many instances where the dialogue seemed awkward and humiliating to sit through. You don't have to be an actor or actress to realize how certain lines need to be delivered and I can confidently say that none of them won me over. I conjured up a scenario in my head where the cast were handed a script with a blank title page, confusing them as to what film they were about to star in. If they had realized beforehand, they might catch onto the fact that the director had a vision of combining all of the stereotypical facets of a vampire, only to fall short and embarrass himself on each ensuing level.
Another subject worth mentioning are the action sequences. To put it simply, they are painful to watch. I'm not sure which in particular I'd rather be ashamed of...the choreography, the visual effects, or audio elements present here. Whenever the camera pans over to the "clan" standing there, menacingly, I can't help but laugh hysterically because they look like a bunch of children at an elementary school Halloween party. This is precisely why you shouldn't cast actors or actresses into the role of a vampire unless they have at least SOME understanding of how to act. I've seen more impressive role playing in a college-based vampire film that I helped do makeup for - and here I thought THAT was amateur-level cinematography.
In conclusion, vampiric cinema is one of my preferred sub-genres within the horror community. To see such a poor attempt at portraying them really disappoints me. This is 2009 - we've had nearly a hundred years worth, and then some, of sources to draw from to keep this legend alive. It seems as though Kiss of the Vampire chose to adhere to the more classical elements while incorporating a modern touch without making either interesting or unique enough. So why, do I ask, would you bother at all?