Published March 1, 1997
Kissed by the young Canadian, Lynne Stopkewich, is one of those made-on-a-shoestring, parents-helping-out, credit-cards-maxed-out sort of films which are so often touted in the press these days. Ms Stopkewich’s parents, at least, can be proud of their daughter’s commercial savvy, since they are certain to get their money back. Visa, too, can breathe a sigh of relief. This gal knows how to sell a first film. For it is not enough to be an attractive and struggling filmmaker taking a risk these days. There are far too many of those. You’ve also gotta have a gimmick, and Ms Stopkewich found one that was just lying around, waiting to be picked up: necrophilia. Of course, it helped that she was an attractive young woman herself, and that her film tells the story of another attractive young woman, Sandra Larson (Molly Parker) who is into dead guys. Somehow it just wouldn’t have had the same kind of oomph if it had been about a guy screwing stiffs. We expect men to be perverts, but a distaff perv still has some novelty value.
There is naturally a lot of voiceover mumbo jumbo about the spiritual benefits of necrophilia. Ms Parker, explaining her character’s perversion to the audience, claims that, when making love to a corpse, she receives “illumination.” “I’ve seen bodies shining like stars.” Every time she is shown doing it with a stiff, the screen is filled with light, though it looks more like car headlights than stars. It also makes use of the conventions of the coming-of-age flick, as Sandra-as-a-teenager (Natasha Morley) is shy and lonely and conducts burials of small animals in the woods while she does “some sort of witchcraft dance.” It is as she is smearing herself with chipmunk blood during such a ceremony that she gets her first period.
Fairly familiar stuff, I think you’ll agree, in movie land. But at least Miss Stopkewich has a sense of humor about what she is doing. When Sandra gets a boyfriend, Matt (Peter Outerbridge), she finds she can tell her secret. He is sympathetic. “It’s the only way to really know a corpse. I mean, you see it all, don’t you.”
“It was like he knew. Like he saw right through me,” says Sandra’s voiceover. Later, when he asks if her interest in corpses is in men or women she quickly answers, “Men!” as if seeking to reassure him that she is not as perverted as that. Another funny bit comes when Sandra, still a virgin (at least so far as living men are concerned) comes to Matt’s bed. She says: “I’ve never done this before.”
“It’s OK. Just lie back. Just lie still.”
Eventually, Matt comes vicariously to share her obsession, and you could say that there is a happy ending, in a weird sort of way. But you would have to be more than weird to buy the film’s whatever-turns-you-on line that there can be a real fulfilment to be had out of such patent moral and spiritual sickness.