Friday, January 04, 2013

Kiss the Abyss Looks at Death and Rebirth: A Movie Review

*full disclosure: a screener of this film was provided by Monarch Home Entertainment.

Director: Ken Winkler.

Writers: Eric Rucker and Ken Winkler.

Cast: Nikki Moore, Scott Wilson, Scott Mitchell Nelson, James Mathers, Mark Craig, Douglas Bennett, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Christina Diaz and Jonna Walsh and Trisha Rae Stahl.

Kiss the Abyss is an indie thriller that was originally released in Germany. Monarch Home Entertainment is now set to release this title in North America February 26th, on DVD. Director Ken Winkler's first film deals with transformation. One woman, Lesley (Nikki Moore) is killed violently, but she returns from the dead. Her return involves a desire for blood and lots of dubbing. Mouths are still synched to the lines; yet, something is lost the arena of believability through the film's sound. All other film elements, from acting to direction, are excellent, but Kiss the Abyss is only for more forgiving indie fans.

The story of Kiss the Abyss primarily involves death and rebirth. The protagonist Mark (Scott Wilson) is married to the lovely Lesley. Mark's married life is turned into chaos when his neighbour's bouts of physical and marital abuse impinge on his calm. The violent neighbour forces a confrontation and Lesley is accidentally killed. But, is this the end for Lesley? No, Lesley's very rich father arranges for an experiment with death. Lesley is brought back from the abyss, but she is very different. Part reptilian, Lesley changes from a quiet wife and painter into a murderess and bloodsucker. Let the violent frenzy begin!

Initially, Winkler uses some excellent narrative techniques, with help from co-writer Eric Rucker. Much of Act I is told through flashbacks. The film begins in a mysterious fashion, with three men driving off into the desert. Their purpose and motivations are revealed through these flashbacks. Slowly, the past and present marry up, until the past scenes are replaced by surreal dream sequences in Act II. This narrative style fills in the blanks at a good pace and the story of Kiss the Abyss is creatively told.

The dubbing takes something away from the film, however. Large chunks of the film are told with help from ADR, especially early in the film. This is a major detriment to the film's enjoyment factor. Dubbing is one element that this film fan truly detests. Thankfully, not all of the scenes have been synced in post-production. Yet, the film's quality suffers greatly in the sound department.

Kiss the Abyss is still a curious feature. The acting from the leads: Nikki Moore and Scott Wilson is well done. The emotions they display appear real and the drama in the film is effective in generating a suitable mood. As well, the film's climax finally shifts the film into a high gear. In these final scenes, there are many scenes of action, involving conflict between many of the film's major and minor characters. There is a final confrontation between Mark and a strange shaman-like character that ends the film with a somewhat foreseeable twist and bloody finale. There is a lot of passion in this film and there are only a few drawbacks in the execution of Kiss the Abyss.

This title will release on home video formats shortly and most indie film fans, who can forgive elements of looping, will find something to enjoy in Kiss the Abyss. Solidly shot and believably acted, this title will excite most thriller fans as Winkler challenges some of the conventions of death and the afterlife. Perhaps, the deceased should simply be let go, rather than brought back in a monstrous and murderous form.

Overall: 6.5 out of 10 (-2 for dubbing, -1 for pacing in Act II, -.5 for a semi-predictable final few scenes).

More on this film, including a trailer, can be found at Monarch Home Entertainment:

Kiss the Abyss at Monarch Home Entertainment

The film's fan page can be found here:

Kiss the Abyss on Facebook

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