A Kiss Before Dying is a 1991 thriller starring Sean Young, Matt Dillon, and Max Von Sydow.
10 out of 10 stars. This one has held up well over the years and is shocking. It’s a lot easier to kill someone than you might think, especially if they’re strangers.
Jonathan Corliss grows up in a small town in the shadow of Carlsson Copper Mines owned by millionaire Thor Carlsson. Since his own father ran away when he was young, he dreams of somehow becoming heir to the Carlsson fortune. Since Thor has twin daughters, Dorothy and Ellen, he sets his sights on them.
Jonathan goes to the University of Pennsylvania where he conveniently enrolls in all the same classes as Dorothy. They begin seeing each other and become intimate. She becomes pregnant, which is a problem for Jonathan since he wants Thor to think the best of him. So he proposes and she meets him at City Hall to get hitched during lunch. When Dorothy gets there, the County Clerk’s Office is closed so they have to wait 30 minutes. Jonathan decides to visit the roof. (Queue creepy music.) Once there, Jonathan lifts Dorothy up and puts her on the ledge. Then as he’s speaking to her, he pushes her off. She falls some 40 floors to her death.
Dorothy’s death is ruled a suicide because of a poem they find in her room. Ellen is convinced she didn’t commit suicide, but Thor doesn’t want an investigation because the family name would be smeared by the fact that Dorothy was pregnant and unwed when she died. So Ellen continues investigating behind his back.
Meanwhile, Jonathan hitchhikes and gets in the car with an orphan named Jay Faraday whose parents were killed when Russian shot down an airline. (True. It did happen.) And suddenly he has the perfect life. He kills Jay (car accident) and assumes his life while Jonathan is presumed dead.
He reinvents himself as a wonderful guy who helps out at the youth shelter where Ellen works. They fall in love and he meets Thor who approves of him. So Jay (Jonathan) marries Ellen. He literally gets exactly what he wanted. But he murders everyone who gets in his way along the way including 1. Dorothy’s first boyfriend who saw him with Dorothy and had a yearbook with his photo, 2. Dorothy’s roommate who took a picture on campus with Jonathan in the background.
Eventually Ellen does figure everything out, but by then he’s onto her and she’s fighting for her life. It does have a happy ending. Jonathan gets exactly what he deserves. 🙂
10 out of 10 stars. Wonderfully done.