Monday, February 13, 2012

Women in Horror: Kissed

** This review contains spoilers. **

Sandra Larson has always been fascinated by death, especially as a sensory experience. As a child, she created rituals to bury dead animal that drove off her only childhood friend. These rituals were to her the only proper way to honor the dead. In college, she works at a flower shop, which inevitably leads her to Wallis Funeral Home, where she decides to work and study embalming. This is also where her obsession with death culminates in becoming a necrophiliac. During her study of embalming in college, Sandra meets Matt and impulsively decides to be completely open about her odd sexual proclivities. He becomes obsessed with her, trying to find out why she feels  the way she does about the dead and why he isn't enough. How far can their relationship last? How far will Matt go in search of answers and how much can Sandra feel for a living person?

I saw this movie a few years and ago and was completely fascinated with it. Although necrophilia is obviously disturbing and taboo, this isn't a film that wants to to disgust or repel, like Cerda's Aftermath or the German Nekromatik films. Some may find it boring because it doesn't have the in-your-face gore and extremely disgusting scenes that these other films have. At its core, it's a love story. Sandra is a normal, every day girl, for the most part. She really could be anyone. Her appearance is normal and her only weird aspect (besides the obvious) is that she doesn't interact with people much. The greatest part of the film is that Sandra isn't portrayed as a horrible, grotesque monster, which would have been very easy to do. She doesn't have sex with corpses because she's kinky or wants some sort of power over them, but because she sees it as a consensual spiritual experience. She believes there is still an energy and vitality in them after death and she can release and feel it with her love. Her actions are compared to that of the funeral director, who she discovers is also a necrophiliac. He prefers little boys (adding one taboo on top of another), obviously for personal pleasure, and reasons that they can't feel anything anyway. Sandra is horrified by it because it's a desecration of the dead, while she celebrates and respects those she is with. Molly Parker does a phenomenal job as Sandra, making her a sympathetic and sensitive character.

Matt is also an interesting character. He doesn't react as most people would when Sandra reveals her secret and he becomes obsessed with the reasoning behind it. He senses that she pulls away from their relationship. In an effort to be what she wants, he only succeeds in freaking her out and she holds him at an even greater distance than before. Although she has feelings for him, she's never been with anyone living and still feels drawn to dead people. His solution is to kill himself so he can be with her in a way she can connect with. The end scene is beautiful, haunting, and bitterweet.

Kissed is a wonderful film that shows necrophilia, an obviously distasteful subject, in an artful light. Sandra isn't condemned as monster. It acts as a character piece that shows the development of her fascination of death from childhood. It's a brave film that is easy to condemn, but shows this taboo in an unexpected way.

My rating: 8/10 fishmuffins

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