Thursday, July 19, 2012

Movie Review - Judas Kiss

Hey, everyone! I'm doing something a little different here. Usually I post updates on my writing, things going on at The Sweet Spot, Weekly Inspiration (which we all know isn't very weekly, anymore), but I wanted to share with you about a movie I just watched, Judas Kiss.

Honestly, with how I love watching movies, I thought back when I started this blog, I'd write more reviews to share with everyone. But my time is so limited I don't get to watch as many movies as I'd like, and with writing reviews, I feel if I'm going to write anything, it should be on one of my manuscripts. Even when I decide to watch a movie, the guilt factor kicks in, leaving me thinking through much of it, I should be writing. And I'm sorry to say, the movies I've selected lately aren't able to hold my attention and they end up becoming background noise as I crack open my laptop and start doing just that.

So these days, there has to be something about a movie that really motivates me to set the time aside to watch it, and once I'm watching it, the next challenge comes in it has to intrigue me enough to not become reduced to background noise. And then there's the third challenge, one that's so rare for a movie to meet; can it motivate me to put my book writing time aside to write a review for it? Well, congratulations goes to Judas Kiss. It came through all three challenges victorious.

First, let me introduce you to the movie. The blurb reads:

Failed filmmaker, Zachary Wells, is convinced by his best friend and hotshot director, Topher, into replacing him as a judge in their film school's annual festival. Zach's one-night stand with a student backfires when that student walks into an interview the next morning calling himself Danny Reyes, the name Zach went by when he attended the school. And Danny's film, "Judas Kiss," is a finalist in the competition Zach is judging. Zach's film, also "Judas Kiss," won the festival years before. As Zach scrambles for answers, a mysterious, chain-smoking campus tour guide, counsels him: "Change the kid's past, change your future." But how? Zach comes to believe he can mend his life by disqualifying Danny from competition, putting him on a different path than Zach followed. But will Zach's plan work?

Sounds interesting enough, right? I still wasn't fully sure what to expect when I went into it, but I was very pleased with what the movie presented in the story line. At it's most basic is, Judas Kiss is a movie about the decisions a person makes, how those decisions shape your life, and what would you do if you were given a chance to go back to a certain point in your life and do things differently. A concept that's familiar and anyone can relate to. Who hasn't wondered what it would be like to travel back in your life and coach yourself to do something differently? While it's a familiar enough plot, how it's presented in Judas Kiss makes it creative and fresh. So how does it accomplish this? In my opinion, two ways; excellent script writing and solid acting.

It's no easy thing to take a familiar idea and make it fresh, but that's what Judas Kiss does. Most movies and stories about going to the past to change your future are all about redemption and ultimately becoming happy with where you truly are in your life and learning to accept the journey - mistakes and all - that brought you there. This is still very true for Judas Kiss, but it's the way it's written that makes it feel like a new concept. It's edgy in its presentation and there's almost a feeling of darkness hovering over it.

In these types of "time travel" movies, I always know the protagonist is going to do the right thing. Not with Zach. He's a good guy...but doesn't 100% so. As he confronts his younger self, Danny, I was never fully certain what he was going to decide, whether to help Danny be successful in that moment, or deny Danny what he wants most to perhaps better his (their) future. That questioning and doubt of what Zach's going to do, the complexity of the situation, kept me intrigued and guessing through the movie.

The thing about Judas Kiss is as it goes on, it gets stronger. It keeps building, and when it does reach it's climax, it's an emotional punch in those last twenty to thirty minutes. And that most certainly is a mark of good writing.

Now for the acting. We have the following characters and the actors who played them:

Zach Wells played by Charlie David
Danny Reyes played by Richard Harmon
Shane Lyons played by Timo Descamps
Chris Wachowsky played by Sean Paul Lockhart (Brent Corrigan)

There are other characters, but these are your main players. I have to start out by saying that all the actors delivered solid performances. It's really been a long time since I've watched a movie, including blockbuster Hollywood "sensations", where the acting has been able to pull me in, but these guys had me completely engrossed in the story. Two, though, did an exceptional job, and of those two, one in particular truly shined. I'll get to him in a second.

Of the first who I felt did exceptional is Richard Harmon. He gave the character of Danny multiple layers, from the arrogant film student prodigy to a young man desperate for a chance to make his life better. His performance was so strong, and he made me care about Danny, which in turn, made me care about Zach. To me, that's the sign of good acting.

Now for the actor who shined the brightest; Sean Paul Lockhart. He was phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal! His role was a secondary character, that of Chris, but every scene he was in, I found myself watching him more than anyone else, and as the movie progressed, waiting for him to come on screen again. He has that special trait that a person can't be taught, they're just born with; charisma. His acting was so natural, I didn't feel like I was watching an actor. I believed his performance. His facial expressions, his gestures, his line delivery, were spot on perfect. For me, I could see so much of the character Chris's emotions and moments of internal struggle, his vulnerability, in the expressions Sean Lockhart presented and put forth in the tones and inflections in his voice. It was a stellar performance by him, and I really hope to see him in more films and in leads roles.

And so, there it is, ladies and gentlemen. My review of Judas Kiss. If I were to put a star rating on it, I'd give it 5 out of 5. It's a fresh spin on a timeless concept, edgy and emotional, thought-provoking with a tint of darkness, but ultimately uplifting. The acting was all around strong, and Sean Paul Lockhart will have you captivated the moment he comes on screen. Very highly recommended.

For more information on Judas Kiss, here's the official website:
There are plenty of viewing and purchasing options for it on its website, but you can also view it HERE at


  1. Hi S.J.

    I've heard of Judas Kiss from it's association with Jay Bell's to-be-made movie on his book 'Something Like Summer'. Thanks for the review. I need to watch it sometime.

  2. Hey, Lena! I had heard about Jay Bell's book being turned into a movie, but didn't know through what studio. How cool it's the same one that made Judas Kiss! Judging by the high quality of Judas Kiss, they'll do a great job with adapting his book :-) And you're very welcome for the review. Thank you for stopping over and reading it!

  3. Thanks for the kind words. As good friends to both the writer and director (I was JayTee's assistant on the film), its great when we see people embracing this film. It's not perfect, but both Carlos and JayTee put a lot in the concept, trying to break out of the norms of gay themed films.

    Yes, Jay Bell's "Something Like Summer" is one of two films on JayTee and Carlos' plate. He is also working on a thriller called "The Dark Place" (from "Judas Kiss" producer Jody Wheeler) that will reunite Sean and Timo. As for Richard Harmon, he had a recurring role on AMC's The Killing and is also in the Canadian series Continuum and has a few films in the works as well, including a vampire tale.

    Thanks again

  4. Hi David! Thank you for reading my review! I'm very flattered that someone connected with the movie and who worked on it took the time to stop over to my humble little blog here :-) No thanks needed for the kind words I gave it. The movie more than earned them. As an author, I know there's no such thing as a perfect book, and I think that applies to the art of film as well, but I can say you and everyone who worked on Judas Kiss really hit a level of excellence with it.

    And thank you for confirming about Jay's book! That's fantastic! I'm absolutely going to keep an eye out for it, and that's wonderful to know about Richard Harmon's current and upcoming roles. He was wonderful in this movie and I'd love to see him in other works. I can't even tell you how thrilled I am to hear Sean has another role coming up! As you know from my review, I thought he was fantastic, so I'm very excited about him being in another project.

    Thank you again, so very much, for taking the time to read my review!