Saturday, October 15, 2016

Vampire's Kiss

Year 8, Day 289 - 10/15/16 - Movie #2,467  

BEFORE: Now for the second of the two last-minute vampire/comedy/romance additions to the line-up, and it's an easy link from Jim Carrey to Nicolas Cage (last heard in "The Croods"), because they co-starred in "Peggy Sue Got Married" back in the day.  

THE PLOT: After an encounter with a neck-biter, a publishing executive thinks that he's turning into a vampire.

AFTER: At first this just seems like the flip-side of "Once Bitten" - young guy, beautiful seductive woman bites him, he starts to wear dark colors and sunglasses and crave the taste of blood.  The only difference is that this one's set in the dating scene of NYC, not L.A., so the main character has a shrink and a ton of neuroses, plus a corner office.  

But the key word in that plot-line is "thinks", he THINKS that he's turning into a vampire.  But he's not, right?  It's kind of confusing.  Because if he is turning into a vampiric thrall, then he's not responsible for his actions.  But if he's wrong, then he's just an out-of-control asshole.  And then we've got to deal with the parts of being a vampire that are even ickier than drinking blood, and that's how they stalk women and are quite rapey, when you think about it.  I mean, hypnotizing women, putting them to sleep and introducing chemicals into their bloodstream?  Dracula is so old-school he never even heard that "no means no".  

Yes, admittedly things are a little different when we've got a female vampire seducing men, because girl power, sexual freedom, vampire sisters are doing it for themselves.  But while that was the case in "Once Bitten", what's going on here is something completely different.  By the end of the film, we're not even sure what's real and what isn't, because the main character is shown to be hallucinating, and that calls everything into question.  That should put this in the category of "American Psycho" or "Jacob's Ladder", but at the same time, it does a great disservice to the viewer.  "Hah!  Whatever we showed you in the last half hour didn't even happen!"  Well, congratulations, you fooled me, thanks for wasting my time.  

Is this just madness, or some kind of metaphor for love gone wrong in the modern world?  Can this publishing executive just not handle dating rejection, and was it easier for him to create a new reality where he was "bitten" (hurt, rejected) by a one-night stand and then doomed to be forever under her spell?  Harming every other woman he encounters as a safety measure, or because the voices in his head told him to?  Which reality is easier to accept?  

Either way, there's just no excuse for bad behavior.  Forcing his secretary to work long hours, searching for a contract that must have been misfiled, and then alternately befriending and berating her when she can't track it down - these appear to be sociopathic behaviors, but is the perceived vampirism just an excuse at that point?  Maybe he's just a dick, annoyed by everything and everyone around him, and then taking it out on her.  

The other alternative explanation here is that there were huge gaps in the screenplay, forcing the director to go back to this "lost contract" well, again and again.  Or letting the actors improv, and without any material to work with, well, it's back to the only bit of story that we have.  Keep upping the stakes (so to speak), though, and eventually his management style becomes sexual harassment, and beyond.  Not cool.  

This form of delusional vampirism eventually leads to him buying plastic vampire teeth (really?), and wandering the streets, repeating "I'm a vampire, I'm a vampire" and begging someone to put a stake through him.  By this point in the film, I wished for that sweet release as well.  Just put me out of my misery.  The only possible narrative explanation for this head-scratching nonsense is that maybe the bat seen at the start of the film did bite him, only it was a real bat that gave him real rabies, and we then watch him go insane over the course of the film.  It's the only way out. 

Also starring Jennifer Beals (last seen in "Four Rooms"), Maria Conchita Alonso, Elizabeth Ashley, Kasi Lemmons (last seen in "The Five Heartbeats"), Robert Lujan, Jessica Lundy, with cameos from John Michael Higgins (last seen in "Pitch Perfect 2"), Marc Coppola, Amy Stiller and David Hyde Pierce (last seen in "Down With Love").

RATING: 2 out of 10 broken mirrors

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