Welcome to the magical Keystone Summit University, where washed-up filmmaker Zachary Wells (Charlie David) confronts hot young student Danny Reyes (Richard Harmon), and discovers the past may be the only place where he can truly find himself.
When failed filmmaker Zachary Wells’s best friend Topher Shadoe talks him into replacing Topher as a judge at a student film festival, he gets the chance to change his life for the better in the sci-fi movie Judas Kiss.
A former student at the Keystone Summit University where the film festival is taking place, Zachary Wells’s bad choices have left him shooting wedding videos, having blown the buzz his own film caused when he won the same festival 15 years ago. With his best friend Topher set to start filming a horror film in Spain, Zachary begrudgingly goes back to his former University. When he arrives he meets the Dean, Mrs Blossom, who remembers him and his competition entry – “Faces and films — I remember the good ones,” she says. Though she questions why he and Topher changed their names.
On his first night, Zachary hooks up with college student Danny at a gay bar and the two end up sleeping with each other – well, that is, ahem, after a whole bunch of very tasteful shot but athletic man sex! It’s not porn and it’s not quite as fun as Samantha’s frolics in Sex in the City or as in your face as the opening scenes of I Love you Phillip Morris, but it just enough to get the blood running around your fuzzy area! The following day however, Zachary is shocked to find out that Danny Reyes is not only submitting a film to be judged by him, but that they both share the same name (Zachary’s real name being Danny Reyes), the same life and the same short film “Judas Kiss”. How can this be?
Turns out that Zachary is experiencing some sort of time paradox event where he and his past self are sharing the same time space continuum. The usual sci-fi enshrined rules are all thrown out of the window in this film. Zachary can interact with his younger self – re-read the above paragraph – yes he sleeps with himself, and he’s encouraged to effect his past to change his future. And who hasn’t wanted to do that? After all you know what you like to be done and you know what you like to do… Come on, think about it, that’s why they put it on the screen! Any ways, both the Dean and the security guard are aware of the time paradox that Zachary is experiencing and offer cryptic and not so cryptic clues. However it all points Zachary in the direction of having to destroy Danny’s chances in the competition to save the career and self-respect of his own future.
Meanwhile from the younger perspective of Danny, he thinks he’s blown his chances by sleeping with one of the judges, who is now giving him a hard time. Add to that his attraction to fellow student Chris Wachowsky (Sean Paul Lockhart) and the son of the University’s benefactors Shane Lyons (Timo Descamps). Danny’s father, enters stage left – being really mean, and is about to cut him off for entering “Judas Kiss” into the competition. So, should Danny follow his heart and be with Chris or move in with rich kid Shane who can support him?
Judas Kiss is an endearing movie about being given a second chance, not only for a better life, but becoming a better person and being with your true love. Quite apart from being able to put meaning in to the phrase Go Fuck Yourself! The plot, though sometimes a little difficult to follow, is genuinely compelling. Judas Kiss is primarily a sci-fi movie which just so happens to have lead characters that are gay. It doesn’t feel forced and the sex scenes aren’t put in for titillation purposes, they have a place in the narrative. Both Charlie David and Richard Harmon do a great job playing the older and younger Zachary Wells/Danny Reyes. Ignoring the strange having sex with himself bit, it’s about Zachary learning to feel better about himself, despite Danny’s arrogance and determination to win the scholarship, at the cost of his own self-worth.
There’s intrigue as to what makes Zachary’s/Danny’s film so special, which we’re shown dramatic snippets of and this technique takes you into the auditorium with the on screen audience. The subject matter is controversial and makes for unpleasant viewing.
There are some nice little sci-fi touches in the film. Danny Reyes changes his name to “Zachary Wells”, possibly alluding to H.G. Wells, author of The Time Machine and if you look closely at Zachary’s car plate, it’s 2Fut3r – to future. Richard Harmon and Genevieve Buechner (one of Shane’s friends) both starred in Syfy’s Caprica as Heracles/Tad Thorean and Tamara Adama respectively.
On the whole Judas Kiss is well paced and imaginative. Yes there are some flaws, the co-existing in the same timeline is never explained and some of the acting from the supporting cast isn’t great. Make no mistake Sean Paul Lockhart (also known as porn actor Brent Corrigan) is very believable and understated and a gamble on behalf of the producers given his cinematic history. Charlie David is good but Richard Harmon has the task of changing pace more than the other actors, which he achieves with ease. I did find myself enjoying the simplicity and honesty of the story, with a little gay bitchiness thrown in (really, his life is over at 38?). It also proves that you don’t need a big budget to make an engaging sci-fi movie. It is a movie that will stay with you – go and see it if you can, buy it if you can’t.
For more information and details of screenings taken place, check out the Judas Kiss website.