Killer's Kiss ★★½

Kubrick Ranked (Work-in-Progress)

Killer's Kiss is a by-the-numbers, less-amateur early work by Stanley Kubrick. It is gorgeously shot, mildly entertaining, and totally predictable. The performances are better than Fear and Desire, but never go beyond the realm of serviceable. As a piece in his thematic catalogue, it is unique because of its "happy ending" that was supposedly studio-imposed. If Kubrick got his more bitter ending then Killer's Kiss would be more in line with his pessimistic (nearly incel) ideas of women. This would have made the film feel more Kubrickian, but would it have made it better? Maybe. The things that bog down Killer's Kiss aren't necessarily narrative conventions. A predictable storyline can still be effective if the performances, style and execution stretch themselves beyond what's expected. Unfortunately, Killer's Kiss does not really succeed in being anything else other than a really gorgeous film with a plain inner self. It is SO damn pretty to look at though. That final set piece in the mannequin storage facility is worth a half-star alone.

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