This low-budget, straight-to-video production makes a pretense at psychological depth but remains mired in cheap thrills.
College student Dawn (Stephanie Shaub) accepts a ride from Carl Ray Hicks (Frankie Ray) when her car breaks down--not knowing that he sabotaged it. She ends up chained in a secret room by Carl, who keeps her subdued with drugs. He subsequently picks up Dawn's roommate Robin (Ann O'Leary), takes
her out, gets her drunk and takes her home, where he reveals the captured Dawn and shoots Robin. Carl's nagging mother (Joan Neubauer) comes over to dinner, and Carl passes off Dawn--now psychologically broken and dependent on him for the drugs--as his girlfriend. She passes Carl's mother a "Help
Me" note, but Carl, annoyed by his mom's harassment, shoots her at the table.
Having found Carl's phone number in Robin's things, Robin's boyfriend Brad (Matt Fallon) and her other roommate Beth (Zena Del Stephens) track him down. They arrive just as Dawn is attempting an escape; Brad is shot, but Beth helps Dawn get away as Carl flees. Some time later, the now hardened and
remote Dawn starts receiving love notes from Carl, who picks her up on the street. They are spotted by Beth and Dawn's old boyfriend Matt (Steve Friedlander), who follow him back to his old house, where Carl has Dawn imprisoned. Carl shoots Matt and he is then stabbed by Beth; Dawn shoots Carl,
but appears to be driven around the bend.
KISS THE GIRLS GOODBYE has a promisingly disturbing setup, and the effectively deranged performance by Ray (who looks like a psychotic evil-twin of actor Alexis Arquette) gives the movie a measure of tension. But it all adds up to something less than compelling, thanks to unimaginative direction
and a lack of any real depth. The movie attempts to get deeper into its characters' minds than usual for the exploitation genre, but too often, they and their actions don't ring psychologically true--including Dawn's growing emotional dependence on Carl, which is supposed to be the story's
backbone. The final half hour, after Dawn's escape, is especially unconvincing, with occasionally ludicrous dialogue.
Writer-producer-director Lee Karaim presents a cynical worldview in which even the supporting male characters are self-concerned louts; perhaps that's intended to make it less of a surprise that an obvious creep like Carl can so easily pick up Robin. In any case, the result is more unpleasant than
legitimately unsettling. The movie was clearly made on a low budget, but the grainy look isn't really a problem; more distracting is the way the music and often distorted sound effects overwhelm the dialogue in some scenes. (Graphic violence, sexual situations, adult situations, substance abuse,extreme profanity.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: NR
- Review: This low-budget, straight-to-video production makes a pretense at psychological depth but remains mired in cheap thrills. College student Dawn (Stephanie Shaub) accepts a ride from Carl Ray Hicks (Frankie Ray) when her car breaks down--not knowing that he… (more)