Main cast: Molly Parker (Sandra Larson), Peter Outerbridge (Matt), and Jay Brazeau (Mr Wallis)
Director: Lynne Stopkewich
Kissed was met with controversy when it came out in 1996, because the theme of the movie involves necrophilia – the act of love with dead people, to put it nicely. In fact, this movie was banned in this part of the world back in those days, and it is only recently, thanks to the increasingly boundary-free nature of online streaming services, that I get to see what the fuss is about. Of course, in this time and age when Rule 34 is practically a mainstream punchline, this movie doesn’t seem that shocking anymore. In fact, it is almost… romantic.
Sandra Larson has always been fascinated by death since she was a young girl. She even came up with a ritual, which involves plenty of dancing and twirling as well as rubbing herself against dead bodies, to “honor” the dead. She takes up mortuary science, gets a job at the local mortuary, and learns the art of embalming from the mortician Mr Wallis. Her fascination is strengthened when she witnesses what she believes to be the glimmer of the dead person’s soul while she is driving the hearse through a car wash. This leads to her doing her weird-ass new age ballerina dance around fresh corpses that are to be her “clients” at the funeral home – coincidentally, she picks the handsome dead dudes to honor – and soon she is “passing over”, as she puts it, into necrophilia.
Problems begin when she begins dating Matt, a medical student. He knows about her, uh, habit, and he is willing to let her indulge in that habit of hers, but eventually, he begins to resent having to compete with dead bodies for her affections. Well, color me surprised. How are these two ever going to work out the differences between them?
First, some news that would not please certain folks: this movie does not actually show anything really naughty. Sandra’s “love scenes” with the dead dudes are filmed in a gauzy, surreal manner, suggesting that Sandra’s necrophilia is more spiritual than carnal in nature. Nothing graphic aside from some nudity – in fact, most of these scenes are barely sexual in nature. Sandra is like that new age guru who believes that having sex with her clients will help them find peace – only this time her clients are dead. Both Molly Parker and Peter Outerbridge bare all in this movie, but these scenes are presented in various contexts that are far from erotic. So, if you are hoping for titillation here, you are going to be disappointed.
What this movie is, on the other hand, is an interesting watch. Sandra’s attachment to her “clients” is completely separate from her feelings for Matt, but unfortunately, Matt doesn’t see it that way, hence the drama between them. The denouement can be easily seen coming from a mile away, but when it happens, it still manages to make me feel like I’ve taken a punch in the gut. I feel sad… and, don’t tell anyone, strangely touched as well by Matt’s lengths to have Sandra’s love. Both are self-absorbed people who refuse to compromise – not a good thing if the relationship is to work – but this only makes these characters feel more real and even relatable, despite Sandra having a fascination for dead bodies that most people won’t feel similarly about. The cast’s performance is solid, and the script doesn’t judge Sandra’s behavior, so what results is a watchable, absorbing drama that allows the members of the audience to make their own decisions about Sandra and Matt. I like that.
I didn’t know what to expect when I sat down to watch Kissed, but I am pleasantly surprised by what it is. If you do happen to come across it, and you are willing to leave any preconceived notions at the door, you may be too.