A few years ago, gay-themed thrillers were something of a rarity. While they’re not exactly common now, we have had an increasing amount recently. Now we have another with Kiss Me Kill Me, from Casper Andreas, who heads in a different direction from previous efforts such as The Big Gay Musical, and Going Down in LA-LA Land.
The film is also noted for being the first queer project for Gale Harold (or as the film properly titles him, Gale M. Harold III) since the US version of Queer As Folk. Alongside him there’s Van Hansis (a four-time Emmy nominee for As The World Turns) along with his Eastsiders co-star Kit Williamson, Big Gay Love & Gayby’s Jonathan Lisecki, Queer Eye’s Jai Rodriguez, Devious Maid’s Brianna Brown, The Get Down’s Yolanda Ross, and LA-LA Land & Seek’s Matthew Ludwinski. It may not have the star power of Ocean’s 11, but there are certainly a lot more recognisable faces than your average gay-themed movie.
The film opens at a party thrown by TV producer Stephen (Harold) and his boyfriend Dusty (Hansis). Everything seems to be going well until the arrival of Craigery (Ludwinski), Stephen’s ex. After a bust up over the fact Stephen has handed the reality TV job he’d promised Dusty to Craigery, Dusty storms off. Stephen follows him to a convenience store where they continue to argue and seem on the verge of splitting up – but then Dusty blacks out.
He wakes up in hospital and is informed that both Stephen and the store clerk (Lisecki) are dead, and he’s the number one suspect. Even when security camera footage shows someone else was there who hit Dusty over the head, the police still feel he must have been involved. Keen to prove his innocence as well as to fill in the blanks in his own memory, Dusty starts to investigate and even tries hypnotherapy in the hopes of remembering more about that night. However, for every piece of evidence that points to someone else, another suggests he may indeed have shot Stephen, whether accidentally or on purpose.
There are also a variety of other people who may or may not be involved, such as Stephen and Dusty’s friend/lawyer Lori (Allison Lane), their psychologist Jeffrey (Craig Robert Young), Dusty’s nerdy and seemingly besotted friend Travis (Williamson), the person in the security camera footage, and, of course, Craigery.
Kiss Me Kill Me isn’t a perfect movie, but it’s entertaining, telling its noir-ish tale in a relatively light way, with flashes humour and moments of drama. The cast all seem to be having a good time, even if not all of them are actually that brilliant at acting. The plot has a few problems, but it does a decent job of keeping you guessing. As with a few other gay-themed movies, its desire to have a twist within a twist takes it within a hair’s breadth of seeming like nonsense, but due to being fairly amiable it stays the right side of ridiculousness.
Some may have a few problems with Dusty, not least the fact that before his boyfriend’s even cold he already seems ready to find a replacement. It’s not just the police that’ll find that suspicious, but it’s indicative of the fact that the movie occasionally allows the plot to drag the characters around rather than vice versa, and also seems keen to ensure there’s enough typical gay movie shirtlessness, kissing etc. Luckily, Van Hansis ensures that Dusty never becomes unlikeable, even if his actions are occasionally a little inexplicable. In fact, it’s a great calling card for the former soap star, who manages to keep the movie centred even when it’s threatening to head off into fantasy land. That said, I don’t think he should be forgiven for the fact he’s shaved his chest in the movie.
It’s nice to see Gale Harold back in the world of gay entertainment, and although his role is somewhat just to be the macguffin around which the plot revolves, he does a decent job, especially when he reappears in are-they-real-or-not flashbacks. I always found him a little wooden in Queer As Folk, but that isn’t a problem here.
Kiss Me Kill Me isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s a pretty good stab at a gay-themed murder mystery, helped by a decent cast, a good visual feel and a plot that, while convoluted, does keep you watching. Some viewers may end up wishing there was more to the film and that it had managed to dial up the tension a little more, as well as found a more ingenious resolution (the film seems to thinks it’s ingenious, but it actually relies a little too heavily on well-used tropes and machinations that in real life wouldn’t have a hope of working). However, if you can look past that, it’s a fun little film.
Overall Verdict: Kiss Me Kill Me has a few problems, but with a story that keeps you watching and the fact Van Hansis helps sell some of it’s more unbelievable moments, this gay-themed murder-mystery ends up being quite fun.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac