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May 15, 2011

FMWL Indie Spotlight - Kiss The Abyss

(2010, Dir. by Ken Winkler.)

Reanimation takes on a life of its own in Kiss the Abyss, a unique indie horror that's full of surprises.  By melding the things we learn from stories of Frankenstein, vampires, and zombies into one horror tale, the film provides an interesting bit of macabre that provides several neat turns.

Our story starts in the middle of things, as Mark (Scott Wilson) heads into the desert on a secret mission with what we soon learn are his father-in-law and brother-in-law.  As the film moves forward, it also works backward to reveal the events that put Mark on this journey, culminating in the death of his young wife Lesley (Nicole Moore).

As you can guess - especially if you can read the poster - death is only the beginning.  The group's desert destination is the home of something of a magic man, a cowboy named Gus (Douglas Bennett) who uses a couple of simple injections to bring Lesley back to life.  In the process, he makes sure to point out that he has no return policy.  The three men attempting to restore Lesley to her previous state should take this as a bad sign, but those blinded by love rarely see things clearly in this kind of situation. (Just ask that Victor Frankenstein fellow.)

Lesley awakes shortly after the treatment, but she quickly realizes that her life is no longer what it was.  She first begins to suspect something when she hears her husband and father arguing about whether or not they should tell her what happened, but things truly get interesting when she begins to notice changes in her behaviors and desires.  I won't go into details here, as much of the film's intrigue comes from watching her plight evolve, but it's safe for me to say that the Lesley that came back is not the same as the one Mark married.

While the monstrous hijinx are Kiss the Abyss' calling card, I found myself very impressed by the film's attention to the relationships between the characters.  Mark and Lesley are at the foreground of all the film's events, but their interactions with others - particularly the difficulty Mark has with his father-in-law - provide added depth to the proceedings.  Like other horror tales that grow from good intentions, we're shown two people who are interested in the preservation of Lesley, but the disconnect between them adds to the drama.  There are also some interesting twists involving Lesley's siblings that add to the film, and the actors work well within the script to represent the human drama of the story well.

The evolution of Lesley's character after the accident is handled very well, and the film uses practical special effects to highlight the changes in the character that drive us toward the film's bloody conclusion.  As the film returns to that desolate ranch - you had to assume that no return policy comment meant something, didn't you? - the film speeds up and offers a barrage of carnage that provides plenty of thrills.  The introduction of two more undead characters in the final act is a nice touch, as the shifting odds certainly add another dimension to the film's climax.

In the end, Kiss the Abyss resonates with me as a thoughtful piece of horror that is confidently made.  Director Ken Winkler and his crew have put together a well-made film that is a fantastic slice of modern day mad science, and the cast presents the story quite well.  The film still feels a bit hollow - most of the characterizations fit into roles we've seen in other films - but Kiss the Abyss still manages to be wildly entertaining and deceptively thought-provoking.  It's more fun than I've had with a new horror film in some time.

For more information on the film, check out the official website or like Kiss the Abyss on Facebook!  And many thanks to Ken for sending the film along so I can share it with the Midnight Warriors!


The Man-Cave said...

Definitely entertaining and a bit original for reanimation flicks. Direction was extremely competent and the last act was a trip! Like it and glad you dug it too.

Reanaclaire said...

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Anonymous said...

Glad you dug this one Mike. Very thought provoking and it has a lot more going on that most indie horror films. One of the year's best for sure.

And the story also felt like something that could fit nicely within a horror anthology.