1996, Movie, R, 102 mins


Writer-director Matthew Bright's debut feature is pulp of the highest order -- a wild and savage joyride into the dark heart of America. Reese Witherspoon stars as barely literate California teenager Vanessa Lutz, who, after her prostitute mom (Amanda Plummer) and crack-smoking stepfather (Michael T. Weiss) are arrested, jumps in the family station wagon and hits the freeway. With her red leather jacket and her boyfriend's gun in her wicker basket, she's off to grandmother's house. But there's a wolf prowling these woods, and when Vanessa accepts a ride from Bob (Kiefer Sutherland), a serial killer of teenage prostitutes, this offbeat fairy tale quickly becomes a very violent nightmare. Bright (whose razor-sharp script for Tamra Davis's GUN CRAZY mapped a similar teenage wasteland) cunningly translates the story of Little Red Riding Hood into the trashy vernacular of tabloid TV and reality-based cop shows: Everyone here who's not part of "the system" is getting wrung through it -- either on parole or up for sentencing -- and Witherspoon, who's just plain great, winds up a pint-sized Aileen Wuornos. It's just the sort of thing Oliver Stone strove so hard to achieve in NATURAL BORN KILLERS, and Bright pulls it off effortlessly. leave a comment

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