By pandering to whatever public appetite exists for tabloid gore, it insults the audience while emptying their pockets.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

"Kiss the Girls" is a choice example of bad taste. By pandering to whatever public appetite exists for tabloid gore, it insults the audience while emptying their pockets. It is a movie that deserves empty seats and audience disgust. The subject matter is so grisly that just watching it sullies the day. This is a movie about a sadist who kidnaps talented young women and imprisons them, for his sexual and aesthetic pleasure, in underground slave quarters out there in the woods somewhere near Durham, NC.

Suddenly, this fiend, of whom a colleague says, "You'll never catch him; he's the best there is," makes two mistakes. First, he kidnaps a lovely college student named Naomi (Gina Ravera) whose uncle happens to be the elegant, loyal Dr. Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman), a forensic psychologist in the Washington, DC, police department. This cop knows his pathology as well as his psychology. Alex speeds in his Porsche to Durham, where he figures out immediately that, of the eight kidnapped women, only two have been murdered. This killer is a collector.

His second mistake is the kidnapping of Dr. Kate McTiernan (Ashley Judd), a medical intern whose hobby lies in the martial arts and whose spirit is a tad more than the bad guy bargained for. There is something uniquely disgusting about a connoisseur who worships talent, intelligence, and strong will in the women he violates, and gets his sick pleasure from breaking their spirits. In a chilling insight, Alex realizes the killer kills only when he has a vacancy in his collection. Mark Isham's score injects genuine terror into this grim premise and guarantees that the whole movie will be unpleasant.

Ashley Judd is both good and interesting as Kate; but this challenge is far beneath the abilities of Morgan Freeman, who lends his natural dignity to a very ugly situation that calls for outrage instead of composure. We in the audience cling to his natural strength as our only hope for identifying the villain and ending the movie. Wanting a movie to end is a very bad emotion for a movie lover.

To compound an already bad situation, the filmmakers have cast several people who look enough alike to leave us confused. Sure that the killer must be someone we already know, we sort through a sea of like faces looking for our man. Frustrated, we know finally we will have to wait until he reveals himself. A worthy movie villain--think Kevin Spacey--must be a clearly defined character in his own right. If he's not, the audience needs to be involved in the hunt for his identity.

"Kiss the Girls" falls more into the horror than thriller genre. If that's where you want to be, you can be guaranteed a true fright ride; but if you love thrillers with the kick of suspense and mystery, you may well rebel at spending two hours dealing with the feral acts of an unidentified sadist.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 496
Studio : Paramount
Rating : R
Running Time: 2h0m

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