LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

DVD Review: “Kiss Me, Kill Me”: Film Noir Meets Comedy in West Hollywood


Pity the beautiful, smart and single girl named Amanda (Brianna Brown) in the new black comedy/thriller Kiss Me, Kill Me. When we first meet her, she’s the sole straight woman at a party, surrounded by handsome, well-to-do gay men. Amanda laments, “I’m surrounded by the best DNA on earth and they don’t even see me!” Her best friend responds, with deadpan honesty, “It’s called West Hollywood.”

Yes, it’s called West Hollywood— where everyone looks famous, thinks they’re famous, or actually is famous. And, all three of those categories love their parties almost as much as they love their avocado or their fresh brewed iced tea. It’s at one of those A-list soirees that we meet the high-spirited characters of Kiss Me, Kill Me. What’s the occasion? It’s the birthday of Stephen (Gale M. Harold III, in his first gay role since TV’s Queer as Folk), a handsome and rich TV producer. In attendance are his current boyfriend, the boyishly cute Dusty (Van Hansis, of TV’s As The World Turns), and his attractive but sly ex-lover Craigery (Matthew Ludwinski). Before you can say, “Welcome to L.A.”, we are treated to a hypnosis session by a sharp-tongued drag queen named Jasmine (D.J. Pierce, AKA Shangela), quickie birthday sex, and a failed seduction scene— with a lot of snappy chat and trademark gay male drama peppered throughout. Oh, and there’s also a marriage proposal: Stephen gives Dusty an engagement ring. Sadly, however, the aforementioned drama becomes a bit too explosive, and the party comes to an abrupt ending. Stephen and Dusty get into a fight, Dusty flees to the local mini-mart called The Pink Dot, and Stephen follows him. Dusty’s engagement ring ends up off his finger, and Stephen ends up... murdered. In the next scene, Dusty wakes up in the hospital, not remembering what happened. And, folks, this is just the first 15 minutes of the movie!

Dusty, the last one to see Stephen alive, is now a murder suspect. He’s being followed by a no-nonsense female LAPD officer (Yolonda Ross) and her wide-eyed partner (Jai Rodriguez), who are convinced that he’s the killer. As Dusty tries to remember what happened that night at The Pink Dot, the twisting and turning plot introduces no less than four other possible murder suspects. Could it be Stephen’s spurned ex, Craigery? Could it be Dusty’s drug-dealing friend Travis (Kit Williamson)? Or could it be Jeffrey (Craig Robert Young), who used to be a couple’s therapist for Dusty and Stephen but is now sharing Dusty’s bed? We eventually do find out who the killer is— but the road to the truth is, appropriately for this film, anything but straight. And, let’s just say that there’s still one final plot twist even after the killer is caught...

Kiss Me, Kill Me is smart, slick, and simmering with over-the-top camp and humor, delivered by a diverse and attractive cast. It says something about the filmmakers’ talents when a movie with a body count of four can still be absolutely hilarious. The characters are as colorful as the retro-style animated opening credits, and all of the actors get their chance to deliver their share of the wit— especially Yolonda Ross’ sarcastic cop, who gets to serve lines such as “You saw that crime scene— and that was rage! And we’re not talking about the nightclub.” In both drag and non-drag roles, D.J. Pierce (best known from RuPaul’s Drag Race) is excellent in a pivotal role; You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who could use the word “clownfuckery” with more conviction.


Like director Casper Andreas‘ other movies (Going Down in LA-LA Land, The Big Gay Musical, Violet Tendencies), Kiss Me, Kill Me has the director’s unapologetically queer sensibility. His films are especially popular at LGBTQ film festivals, largely because he is skilled at holding a rhinestone-framed mirror up to gay male culture while gently parodying that culture at the same time. The director knows what his audience wants, even if that audience won’t always admit it. Put another way, Andreas generously delivers the guilty pleasures. He also has found a cinematic kindred spirit with screenwriter/fellow producer David Michael Barrett, whose script features an all-you-can-eat buffet of priceless dialogue and potent situations.



Kiss Me, Kill Me is now available on DVD and VOD. For more information, visit www.KissMeKillMeMovie.com.

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