Despite striking similarities to classic thrillers such as Seven and The Silence of the Lambs, 1997’s Kiss the Girls continues to fly under the radar of many movie fans, lost in the back catalogue of late ’90s blockbusters.
It also has more than its share of negative reviews, mostly with vague criticisms of pacing or plot, although even they acknowledge stellar performances by Kiss the Girls‘ cast.
Based on the novel of the same name by James Patterson and starring Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd and Cary Elwes, Kiss the Girls is a neo-noir thriller that follows forensic psychologist Alex Cross as he hunts for a serial killer named ‘Casanova’ that he suspects has kidnapped his niece.
It’s every bit as dark as you might suspect, with highlight-reel performances from both Freeman and Judd. But Kiss the Girls‘ appeal goes far beyond its stars; its a beautifully edited, tensely scored, edge-of-your-seat experience that keeps you guessing throughout, with each of its twists and turns calculated and delivered in masterful fashion.
A lot of unfair criticisms were levelled at Kiss the Girls‘ plot, which is actually fairly water-tight on close inspection. Each character is developed, given a rough motivation and MO, and the story then develops around them. At no point does the story feel forced or inorganic, although the movie’s final act does feel a little rushed, which takes away some of our insight into Casanova in particular – something that may leave you feeling a little disappointed.
There’s plenty of moments specifically designed to creep the audience out, but at no point does Kiss the Girls profess to be anything but a tense thriller intended to entertain and engage, and on that score, it’s able to fully deliver.
Summary: An inexplicably overlooked thriller that deserves to stand alongside its ’90s contemporaries in our collective memory, Kiss the Girls is dark, creepy, and endlessly entertaining.