Originally published on So So Gay on 10 March 2015.
A group of college friends decide to buck the gay convention of attending Pride, and opt to go camping instead. Boredom arrives sooner than expected, and after finding a ouija board one drunken evening, the boys foolishly decide to mess around with it, unknowingly summoning the vengeful spirit of local legend Malice Valeria (Alexandra Fulton).
Approached on a purely vacuous level – as great swathes of gay cinema sadly often are – Kissing Darkness has a lot in its favour. The entire cast are pretty much all model levels of hotness. Token straight character Vlad (though he sadly does no impaling, of any sort), played by the obscenely handsome Nick Airus, even manages to lose his shirt before the film hits the 90 second mark – a feat someone should at the very least be applauded for engineering. As such, the tone is unsurprisingly camp, though manages to avoid overdoing it so as to become tiresome. Even the slightly shrill but undeniable comic relief of queeny Skylar (Kyle Blitch) successfully treads this line, whose hysteria is tempered by the rest of the more low-key ensemble.
While some LGBT films can suffer from stilted scenes and overlong pauses between lines of dialogue, one of the best things about Kissing Darkness is its pace. Undoubtedly helped by the chemistry between the five main actors, the script at least bounces along in an engaging fashion, helping to gloss over some of the glaring plot holes or dodgy production values. Sadly, any form of closer inspection and the wheels begin to fall off the whole shebang.
Pulling your eyes away from the plethora of pert pecs on show, you slowly realise the plot doesn’t particularly make sense. However, it does at least feel like there is some attempt to flesh out (no pun intended) the characters beyond twink, whore and bore – although Vlad does seem like he’s basically there to stand around and look pretty. Oh so pretty. Some of the more horror-geared moments almost work too, but a number are unfortunately let down by primitive special effects. Thankfully, the evil Valeria is at least brought to suitably maniacal life by Fulton.
As a low budget film, occasionally wonkiness is to be expected, though there is some terrible camerawork scattered throughout the film. Perhaps even more egregious, however, is the film’s audio. Whether a poorly matched stock-music selection, some barely audible dialogue in a conversation, or overly dominant background noise – a memorably moment being when Valeria competes with her own creaking pleather dress so as to be heard – the sound on Kissing Darkness is sporadically terrible.
The great pity with Kissing Darkness is there are enough good elements buried amongst the flaws that, with a little refinement, a bigger budget and longer shooting schedule, it could have been a very good film. Sadly, many of the problems it ran into could have been avoided in the right hands, though it would appear the creative talent behind it, James Townsend, ultimately had his creation taken out of his control.
It may not be troubling any Best Of… lists, but despite its (sometimes glaring) shortcomings, Kissing Darkness is a pretty enjoyable watch that somehow manages to be greater than the sum of its shoddily thrown together parts.
Kissing Darkness is available on DVD from Amazon.