Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Film Review: Kalifornia (1993)

Directed by: Dominic Sena and Written by: Stephen Levy and Tim Metcalfe (story)
Released: September 1993

“Kalifornia” might be one of those movies where the plot is not ambiguous, but quite obvious right from the beginning. If one gives this film a chance, there’s a likelihood of liking it better than your typical slasher films.

Brian Kessler (David Duchovney ) is a journalist that is embarking in co-authoring a book about Serial Killers, with Carrie Laughlin (Michelle Forbes ) a Photographer of nudist self-portraits. The Couple decide that for their research they will go on a cross country tour of all the famous murder sites and stop in California. They place an ad regarding sharing gas expenses with someone that would be interested in taking the trip along with them. The only couple who respond are Early Grace (Brad Pitt) and Adele Corners (Juliette Lewis) these are not your average trailer trash folks. Early and Adele can be described as psychopaths in addition to Earle being a serial killer. Unknowingly, Brian and Carrie decide to go through with what was posted in the ad and embark on a horrifying journey into insanity.

Along the way Brad Pitt’s character kills anyone that gets in his way for no apparent reason. While Juliette Lewis’s character is shown as a naive victimized young girl that is not allowed by Earle to drink and is beaten “only when she deserves it” Carrie was having her doubts of her own about the couple but Adele unknowingly confirms those doubts by mistakenly informing Carrie a little about Early’s character.

Carrie brings it up to Brian’s attention that Early beats Adele and has done some jail time. Brian is so thrilled that Early is showing him how to shoot a gun and finds his character fascinating yet scary, that he fails to listen to his partner’s concern. Carrie, after telling Brian that she wants the couple out of the car in the next gas station --realizes Earle is being sought after by the police. Early then takes them hostage and decides to drop in on home owners and kill if they get in his way and if they don’t the same applies.

Brian is knocked over the head at one point and after doing away with Adele, Early dresses Carrie in Adele’s attire and takes her to an abandoned home nearby. Brian is helped by the old lady now a widow thanks to early and arrives in time to find Early in a psychotic state and knocks him over with a shovel. Brian then tries to free his girlfriend. She is handcuffed and badly beaten since she didn’t let Early have his way with her and stabbed him. Early then regains conscience and gets into a struggle with Brian.

The ending is obvious as well as the beginning but Brad Pitt does a stellar performance in bringing his character as a serial killer alive. They all do such a convincing undertaking of their roles. The director and writers didn’t aim to glamorize serial killers as in many movies that depict them and show their gory blood baths ---Although there is plenty of blood in this movie. Their aim was exactly what it was right from the start; what if there’s a writer on serial killers that inadvertently has a serial killer right next to him. The writer does not know anything about serial killers because he has never murdered anyone and now he is given the chance to experience murder for himself.

This movie poses questions that anyone doing a study or research on serial killers might raise such as “why serial killers do what they do?” “What makes a murderer?” ect. You would expect the answer would be someone that grew up with a violent past or is a victim of abuse... Brian then finds out that any human being has the capability of becoming a killer. An animal exists in all of us... that sort of thing but he concludes that the difference between them and us is that we have to deal with remorse, guilt and confronting our conscience.

What lesson can one get out of this movie? The first one and most important one would be not to lend your cars to strangers or get in a car with them. The second one coincides with the first one --don't trust everyone. And the third should be for the fellows to listen to their partners when they have a gut instinct. With these simple life lessons that you are taught growing up you will survive any horror/psychopathic scenario.


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