Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kiss the Abyss – review

Director: Ken Winkler

Release date: 2010

Contains spoilers

Kiss the Abyss is a low budget independent flick that I would most certainly say had ideas above its station and, for the most part, achieved them. It isn’t perfect but it is a good, solid horror that deserves more of a distribution than it currently has (to get hold of the film I picked up the German DVD release).

Certainly, on the print I watched, it had a slightly overexposed quality that worked for the opening scenes as a Jaguar drives through a desert . The car contains three men, who we later divine to be Harold (James Mathers) – an older man and the driver of the car – his son Stephen (Scott Mitchell Nelson) and his son-in-law Mark (Scott Wilson). Harold seems quite gruff and we quickly ascertain that he thinks little of Stephen.

James Mathers as Harold
However his relationship with Mark is even more strained. In flashback we see the lives of Mark and Lesley (Nikki Moore). We see a couple in love, though not in love with their neighbourhood, especially next-door neighbours - the loutish Bruce (Ronnie Gene Blevins, True Blood) and his abused girlfriend Mary (Christina Diaz). Cutting from the car to the past and back we see mark strung out and being sick, whilst we realise that an intervention to help Mary led to an escalation that saw Lesley grievously injured.

Douglas Bennett as Gus
The body of Lesley is in the boot of the car, packed in ice, and Harold (who happens to be wealthy) is taking them to see Gus (Douglas Bennett, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Gus is a ‘magic man’, a hick with powers (it is suggested) and he takes the three men into a bunker area with the body. Towards the back of the bunker, hidden from sight, is something… we only see a yellow eye and long talon like nail. Gus tells them that he has a no-returns policy, after he does this he never wants to see them or it (he refers to Lesley) again. He gives Mark a needle, puts a bit in her mouth and injects her with a large syringe. As she revives and starts bucking, Mark has to inject her with the sedative Gus gave him.

vein marks spread
Lesley awakens at home and it seems it has been a while as she keeps having a dream of being in the desert. Mark is in the dream now and, later, it begins to involve his blood. Now, let’s be honest, she’s back from the dead and this is Taliesin Meets the Vampires thus we know what will happen. At first she notices a vein on her neck (where Gus injected her) becoming darker. She bites Mark and tastes his blood during sex and she vomits normal food. Mark and Harold are at odds over what to tell her.

finding Mary
As things develop the veins spread. When Mary visits to try and ascertain whether Lesley is alive and apologise for Bruce (now missing) Lesley loses control and, off-screen, attacks her neighbour. This leaves Mark with some bodily cleaning up to do. He tries to help his wife by quitting work and being a source of food for her. One wonders if it was ever going to be enough? But Harold wants his daughter back and isn’t afraid to take her from Mark.

As she changes she becomes paler and her eyes glaze in a cataract-zombie kind of way. However, she showers and starts sloughing skin and, as she emerges with yellow eyes, one feels that the skin and cataract was almost a cocoon as she changed. So, what caused her to become what she now is, what was in that syringe? It’s a clever idea and I’m not going to tell as the film hinges on it. The other clever idea is to make the film character driven.

yellowed eyes
Of course that relies on actors and none of them do a bad job in this. I wouldn’t say there was an Oscar winning performance but there wasn’t a bad performance either. I particularly liked the character of Gus.

Other than the interesting source of the vampirism, this does nothing too unusual but is a good solid film. It perhaps lost its way in the last five minutes or so but that last unnecessary meander did not spoil the rest of the film. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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