Brian De Palma's "Dressed to Kill" is a masterful blend of horror, mystery, and psychological thriller. It is a carefully constructed and cleverly executed film that keeps you on edge from start to finish.
The plot revolves around the murder of a sexually frustrated woman (played by Angie Dickinson) and the subsequent investigation led by her psychoanalyst (played by Michael Caine). In the middle of it all is a high-priced call girl (Nancy Allen), who becomes the only witness to the murder.
One of the striking aspects of "Dressed to Kill" is De Palma's stylized approach to direction. He makes a conscious decision to use visuals over dialogue to tell the story, creating an atmosphere of suspense and dread. His use of split screens, point-of-view shots, and tracking shots serve to heighten the tension and keep the audience engrossed.
Angie Dickinson gives a brave and bold performance as the frustrated housewife who meets a horrific fate. Michael Caine, in a role that's a departure from his usual characters, offers a nuanced and compelling performance as the psychoanalyst. Nancy Allen, as the call girl, shines in a role that requires her to be both vulnerable and tough.
The film's treatment of gender and sexuality is undoubtedly controversial. While De Palma attempts to deconstruct stereotypes, his depiction of transvestism and psychosexual disorder can be seen as problematic and offensive by modern standards.
"Dressed to Kill" also showcases an excellent musical score by Pino Donaggio. The score adds an additional layer of suspense, harking back to the works of Hitchcock's longtime collaborator, Bernard Herrmann.
In conclusion, "Dressed to Kill" is a captivating and provocative thriller. It's a stylish and suspenseful film that, despite some controversial elements, stands as a testament to De Palma's ability to craft an engaging and visually stunning cinematic experience.