Year of release: 1996
Director: Matthew Bright
Stars:Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland, Dan Hedaya, Wolfgang Bodison, Brooke Shields, Brittany Murphy, Alanna Ubach, Amanda Plummer, Michael T. Weiss, Tara Subkoff, Conchata Ferrell, Bokeem Woodbine
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Matthew Bright's career has thus far been a short one, with "Freeway" being his debut feature and his best effort. The film executive-produced by Oliver Stone, is a take/variation on the story of the Little Red Riding Hood, but with a contemporary edge to it. The film follows the story of Vanessa Lutz, a teenage girl with a messed family life. Her mom prostitutes herself and her step dad is trying to abuse her. When her mom and step dad get thrown in jail, Vanessa decides to go stay with her grandmother. On her way, her car breaks down and she hitches a ride with a man, who turns out to be a therapist. Or so he says, since Vanessa knows there's a psycho killing young girls on the road.
Matthew Bright's film is one populated with great character actors that really bring the story to life. Bright manages to create the story vivid, engaging and always dynamic. Though nothing particularly new is happening on screen, the sheer energy and enthusiasm of everyone involved makes the film enthralling. The Red Riding Hood story, which has been used in so many different films, gets a more urban scenario, with the wolf being replaced by a serial killer (which is a departure, considering for example Neil Jordan's "The Company of Wolves" which used the werewolf metaphor). The actors are also really vibrant, particularly Reese Witherspoon, who at this point wasn't known for her mediocre comedies, but for her actual acting talent. She creates a character that is hilarious and unforgettable, whereas Kiefer Sutherland, excels as the creepy killer. A hidden film worth discovering.