In the interest of full disclosure there's a few reasons that some might feel as though my review of I Kissed a Vampire is unfair. First, due to a variety of snafu's outside the control of SIFF we were not shown what I expect will be the fully final cut. My personal sense from the announcements made by the filmmakers is that they were still editing the film as the deadline to screen it Thursday night approached. Rather than pull the film they sent at the last minute (literally, the film started 45 minutes late as we were waiting for the materials to be driven in from the airport) a version without color correction, minus some undefined final effects and with the timecode still visible in the top right corner of the screen. Second, I actually walked out a bit past the half-way point. So theoretically it is possible that things got so dramatically better that my opinion would change if I could have stayed all the way through the film. That's unlikely to happen though - as even I have my limits. That said, I don't think my criticism really would be altered if it had been a final cut and/or if I hadn't left.
The official guide to the festival compared this film to Twilight mixed with Glee and High School Musical. After seeing what I saw I'd say it's a bit insulting to Twilight and Glee to be compared with this production. I've never seen High School Musical but I'd imagine they wouldn't look too kindly on the comparison either. Glee features catchy music and pretty high quality singing/dancing - I get that even if I tend to fast forward through the musical parts if I watch. Twilight features a valuable lesson on the dangers of co-dependence. Plus the aforementioned sparkling. So in my book both have redeeming social value. This film just has a main character I wanted to get away from as fast as possible, and he was one of the more positive aspects of the film.
The technical look of the film seemed OK. I'm sure it'd look somewhat slicker with correction, but I quickly forgot about the time-code in the upper right hand corner. I don't think the film's really worth a deep analysis, so just some of the basic issues in bullet point form (in no particular order) are;
- Pretty generic sounding music with beyond bubblegum lyrics. Bubble-gum lyrics to me can be catchy and fun. These were not memorable nor particularly clever. In fact at some point point after "I don't crave to be a bat, live in a cave..." and "I'm stuck in a bloody jam - half a monster, half a man" my brain just decided not to expend the energy processing the lyrics anymore.
- Incomprehensible motivations of the characters. I'm not expecting this to be Shakespeare, but I honestly had no idea why the characters didn't want to be vampires. The part I saw had to do with trying to figure out how to not live forever, etc. That's not a completely implausible desire - but it's not at all explored. You gotta give me something to suspend my disbelief with.
- Less than thrilling dance numbers - putting it mildly. Sure, I'm gonna like the backup dancers in their slutty goth/vamp outfits with the torn fishnets. But that really can't be the main thing to recommend the film
- A main character that I'd prefer didn't get the girl. A set of other characters than made me wish the Cullens would make an exception in their vegetarian diet for.
- The only people around me laughing at the "jokes" were people in the entourage from the film.
Screening Notes: Just a general thought to share with directors and/or producers that bring a film to a festival. In short - try not to publicly act like a bunch of dicks. Not sure how to do that? Hint #1 - leaving your fracking i-phones in your pocket. Presumably you've already seen your film, so if you really need to be emailing and/or texting then do it from the lobby. Even after getting the film there late, showing an unfinished version several people from the film continued to screw around with their phones well past the opening credits. Only stopping when audience members (myself included) asked them to knock it off.
Update: I had a few extra minutes so went back to the Q&A the next time the film screened and grabbed a few shots of the cast from the film.