Kiss the Girls
directed by Gary Fleder
(Paramount, 1997)

Kiss the Girls is a disturbing, well-crafted movie that exceeded all of my expectations. It is not what I would call horror, per se, but there are certainly some realistic scenes of violence in it. This movie pulls no punches; any ghastly images are there not for shock value but for the simple reason that the story demands them to be there in order for the film to be as powerful as it is.

Someone is kidnapping young, attractive girls in North Carolina's Research Triangle area; three have been found dead in the woods, but the rest remain missing. One of the missing is the niece of Washington, D.C., forensic investigator Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman), and he goes to Durham to help find her. Soon thereafter, medical doctor Kate McTiernan (Ashley Judd) is kidnapped from her home. She wakes up to find a masked man telling her how much he loves her; this self-named Casanova has assembled a harem of sorts for himself, keeping the missing girls locked up in separate rooms in an unknown stone-walled location. McTiernan is the only victim to break her captor's rules and survive, and she becomes Cross's greatest asset in his hunt for the criminal.

The eventual outcome is somewhat complex, but the terrific script allows for little misunderstanding on the part of the viewer. Most importantly, the conclusion is both spectacular and largely unforeseen; Kiss the Girls triumphs in delivering a thoroughly satisfying ending, a fact which distinguishes it from the majority of action/thriller/psychological horror movies.

Is there a better actor in Hollywood than Morgan Freeman? His virtually perfect acting is greatly complemented here by Ashley Judd's own superb performance. The role of Casanova is also played extremely well, guaranteeing the high-impact drama of the incredible conclusion. As a native North Carolinian, though, I would like to say that the accents of the Durham policemen were not accurate. I have no other complaints at all. Some may be interested in knowing there is no nudity in this film, which is somewhat refreshing. If you like a suspenseful thriller along the lines of Silence of the Lambs, you will almost certainly enjoy Kiss the Girls immensely.

- Rambles
written by Daniel Jolley
published 27 August 2005

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