"Judas Kiss," the surprise hit at this year's Phoenix Film Festival, is certain to make most audiences feel a bit uncomfortable.
The feeling will not necessarily come as a result of the film's LBGTQ themes (although it is advisable that one knows that before seeing "Judas Kiss"). Rather, the uncomfortable feeling will be directly associated with the movie's strange sci-fi twists. Revealing anything more specific would unfairly spoil surprises.
However, regardless of some events that may or may not be a bit too bizarre, "Judas Kiss" is an incredibly original independent feature film; an extraordinarily well-made one that completely transcends all genres and features some fairly solid performances from a few really charismatic actors.
Charlie David plays Zachary Wells, a failed filmmaker who is convinced by his hotshot director friend to replace him as a judge in Keystone Summit University's annual film festival. Upon arriving, Zach hooks up with a student at a bar only to discover the next morning that said student is one of the festival's entrants.
Moreover, the student calls himself Danny Reyes (Richard Harmon) - a name Zach knows very well. And Danny's film "Judas Kiss" is also familiar. Zach made a film with the same title that won the festival years before. Then Zach, having received the mysterious advice of "Change the kid's past, change your future," sees Danny making his same mistakes.
The final 30 minutes of “Judas Kiss,” when the puzzle pieces start to come together, are undoubtedly the most emotionally powerful parts of the movie. Writer/director J.T. Tepnapa and his co-writer Carlos Pedraza summon the delicate revelations in a way that is both beautiful and slightly haunting, yet satisfying through and through.
Still, just as “Judas Kiss” is not a film for intolerant persons, it is also not one for viewers who cannot handle a little awkward mind-bending much less those who prefer that their entertainment fits perfectly into a set genre. However, those who can handle feeling a bit uncomfortable will have found something spectacularly unique.