Killer's Kiss ★★

Made for peanuts back in 1955, Killer's Kiss is the second film by legendary director Stanley Kubrick. Though more adept than many sophomore features, Killer's Kiss is simply just dreadfully dull. God is merciful because this film is just 67 minutes, but even then, it is a very long 67 minutes. I have seen films that are over three hours that have gone by quicker than Killer's Kiss. Now, why does the film feel so long? The pacing of course is very slow, but the plot is incredibly weak. Feeling more appropriate for a short film, the film is underplotted and struggles to hit the 67 minute mark. Kubrick tries to pad the story with some extra scenes, but even then, nothing helps the film to move along any quicker. Even when the plot is occurring, the film is hardly engaging and pretty run-of-the-mill for a film noir. The ending, though unwanted by Kubrick, is also pretty bad with the happy ending, but the scene proceeding it is hardly better. In the climax, Davey Gordon (Jamie Smith) and Vincent Rapallo (Frank Slivera) face off in a mannequin warehouse. Using an axe as a weapon, Vincent faces a barrage of mannequin parts from Davey. This sequence is far more comical than suspenseful and takes far too long to progress.

The film's plot is not bolstered by the acting either, which is awful across the board. At no point do these largely unknown actors justify being in a Kubrick film. However, what does elevate the film is the camera work. There are more than a few shots that hint at Kubrick's potential here. One such example is a shot down the stairs of Vincent's club where you can see out the windows in the doors. A terrific shot, it also hinted at Kubrick's obsession with symmetry, with the shot being entirely symmetrical. A later shot in a tunnel channels classic film noir with Davey running into the tunnel and the scene being lit solely from the natural lighting outside of the tunnel.

However, Killer's Kiss is a largely disappointing experience. Dull, slow, and too long, the film hints at Kubrick's promise, but can probably be skipped in favor of his more accomplished and seasoned works. As it stands, Killer's Kiss would probably have been forgotten if not for its director.

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