A Kiss Before Dying was one of these movies I saw once shortly after its release and never since. I had vague memories of it, mostly about it ending in a house near a railway track. Funny how something so trivial was my only recollection of it. I still remember this was about some guy pushing a girl from a balcony, then killing other people who are on his heels. Turns out I’m not far off as Jonathan Corliss (Matt Dillon) does indeed push his girlfriend to her death and then starts dating her twin sister. This is possible because nobody knew of their relationship. Because she is the only one who thinks this wasn’t a suicide she undertakes steps to find out more about her sisters death, not knowing she’s about to marry the killer and he sees her every step.
I consider this to be one of those forgotten movies, despite the exposure it had when it was released most people don’t remember it now and I can’t recall the last time it was on TV. So I decided to take a little trip own memory lane and see if this movie holds up well after 20 years.
And the answer to that is: not quite.
As soon as Sean Young came on screen and opened her mouth I slapped myself to the head and thought to myself: really, is this the acting I’m going to have to endure for the next 90 minutes? Her delivery is so bland, so devoid of any emotions even though the script requires her to display them. It’s as if she was sitting at home rehearsing for the first time and her pages are all mixed up. And it just doesn’t get any better, the only convincing piece of acting she did was shedding a tear and having sex with Matt Dillon. Though the latter should hardly be any effort considering his hunk status at the time. Her character Dorothy gets killed within 10 minutes of the movie, sadly she returns quickly later as surviving twin sister Ellen.
Dillon himself does a decent job as Jonathan Corliss, he makes most of what he can with this material that never really develops his character. His actions never make any real sense. In the beginning of the movie he’s the secret boyfriend of business tycoon Thor Carlsson’s daughter. But because he made her pregnant he decides to throw her off a building and make it look like a suicide. All because her father would disown her if he would find out. I guess the guy clearly never heard of abortion clinics. Then he would only kill one (future) person instead of two (just keeping up with the logic of pro-lifers). He then starts dating her twin sister a year later just because he apparently really wants to be a part of this family. This sister is still suspicious about the so-called suicide and anytime a friend of hers, or somebody else for that matter, has some info that could lead to Dillon’s character he kills that person, until of course Sean Young’s character finds out the truth about the love of her life.
A Kiss before Dying is a simple thriller, spiced up with one or two sex scenes and a brooding poster to sell it as an erotic thriller. Don’t judge a book by its cover; the movie can’t hardly be called erotic despite a nude Sean Young.
This movie fell way below my expectations. At no point is the story really engaging and other than the fact that from his bedroom a young Jonathan Corliss overlooks the railroads where the Carlsson trains go by daily, no motivation for his actions. Why not marry into another rich family? If I murdered someone, I wouldn’t start dating her twin sister.
“A Kiss Before Dying” requires “Multiple Beers Before Watching”.