Newest Review: ... to me in that it seemed to leap into the storyline in a rather ham-fisted fashion, but I was immediately impressed with Scott Anthony Lee... more
Murder on his mind
Freeway Killer (DVD)
Member Name: GentleGenius
Freeway Killer (DVD)
Advantages: Excellent acting from Scott Anthony Leet
Disadvantages: Bitty, cheaply made, poor dialogue in parts, not enough detail
RELEASED: 2010, Cert. 18
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 85 mins
DIRECTOR: John Murlowski
PRODUCERS: Nadine Corde & Tim Swain
SCREENPLAY: David Birke
MUSIC: Erik Godal
Scott Anthony Leet as William Bonin
Dusty Song as Vernon
Cole Williams as Kyle
Thomas Curtis as Billy
Debbon Ayer as Ruth
Michael Rooker as Det. St. John
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Based on the true story of serial killer William Bonin who was labelled The Freeway Killer until his capture and subsequent execution, Freeway Killer begins with Bonin in prison, under guard, being questioned by Ruth, the mother of one of his victims, who is seeking some kind of justification or reason for Bonin murdering her son.
The film then flashes back to the point where with the help of self-proclaimed wizard Vernon, we see William Bonin luring young male hitchhikers into his van, befriending them, then bumping them off, carelessly disposing of their bodies on grassy banks which border the LA highway.
A few days later while Bonin is driving around alone, he lures young man Kyle into his van after seeing him unfairly chastised by both his girlfriend and employer. Kyle happily joins Bonin, sharing tokes on his joints, but after a while as they are driving around and him witnessing the volatile, rather disturbing nature of Bonin's personality, he becomes wary. However, Bonin and Kyle form an uneasy friendship, and when Kyle is introduced to Vernon, he (Vernon) becomes jealous as it appears that Bonin now wants Kyle to be his partner in crime.
It is obvious, right from the start, that Freeway Killer is a very low budget affair. The colour isn't good, it having a slight greenish hue, and some of the opening scenes are constructed quite clumsily. It also felt a bit disjointed to me in that it seemed to leap into the storyline in a rather ham-fisted fashion, but I was immediately impressed with Scott Anthony Leet's acting.
The first thirty so minutes of Freeway Killer are somewhat bitty and ill-constructed, in that although it isn't at all difficult to work out what is happening, everything seems scrappy and disconnected. It does pull together though, and bearing in mind this is a film based on a real serial killer and a true story, the focus settles on the highly disturbed serial killer William Bonin's personality.
Scott Anthony Leet I feel was absolutely brilliant as the volatile, sometimes charming and friendly, sometimes childishly hostile and sometimes murderous Bonin...everything he says and does is geared towards the luring and killing of his prey. The serial killer psychology is presented very well in this film, more than ably assisted by Leet's excellent acting. He perfected a maniacal laugh which isn't at all silly or over the top...it actually is very similar to the one Peter Sutcliffe, The Yorkshire Ripper, was well-known for, and is a common characteristic amongst serial killers. Along with this disturbing laugh, Leet managed to inject an expression into his dark brown - almost black - eyes which is one of utter callousness, coldness, being devoid of any benevolence.
The other actors were OK, but not brilliant, my favourite of them being Dusty Song as Vernon the wannabe wizard. He started off a bit shakily, but improved as the film went on. I also think that part of the problem with the acting from the remainder of the cast not being up to par, is that at certain points in the film, the dialogue leaves a bit to be desired.
Before watching this film, I did have some awareness of William Bonin the real Freeway Killer, as I have a morbid fascination with the serial killer psychology, and I can say that the storyline of this film does stick quite accurately to a small portion of Bonin's life and activities, but it gives very little idea of his background, what motivated him, how he came to be in league with Vernon and there were no details of his previous arrests and internments. An alcoholic mother is vaguely hinted at, and she does appear briefly in the film, but Bonin's early life was much more dysfunctional and disturbed than the film suggests.
As a film, I didn't find Freeway Killer boring, but I do feel that without the superb acting from Scott Anthony Leet, it would have been a complete and utter damp squib, as there was very little else anywhere near attention-grabbing. I can't praise or criticise the story, because of it being factual, but the dramatisation of this part of Bonin's life could have been constructed and put across in a far more meaningful, convincing way, by tidying up some of the scrappy bits and giving a greater insight into Bonin as a person through being told more about his life history and what thoughts occupied his mind during his private moments.
All in all, I have seen far better dramatisations of true life events, particularly that of various serial killers, and it really was only Scott Anthony Leet who held the whole thing together, succeeding in keeping my attention and not clicking the 'eject' button. I do like to see something in factual stories about serial killers stimulate a degree of curiosity in me as to why their victims allow themselves to be drawn into their net, but I didn't get that buzz from this film. I did force myself though to ponder on the ease with which young men so easily jumped into Bonin's van, especially Kyle who ended up being his assistant, and the only answer I can come up with is that serial killers such as Charles Manson - and in this case Bonin - often prey on people who are needy, in trouble, societal misfits or vulnerable. This only vaguely comes across as so in the case of Kyle, and I feel more emphasis should have been placed on ascertaining Kyle's reasons for hanging around on the scene once he knew what Bonin was up to, as he didn't seem weak-willed or vulnerable enough to have been drawn in so easily. Perhaps that was poor acting or poor direction/production? It is hard to say.
Even though Freeway Killer could only ever be slotted into the 'B' movie status, I nonetheless found it fairly enjoyable - if that is the right word - but as said above, such was almost 100% down to Scott Anthony Leet's brilliant portrayal of William Bonin.
If you don't mind putting up with all the hit and miss elements of this film and would like to be fascinated by one single marvellous piece of acting from the main character, Freeway Killer is something you might enjoy, but don't expect too much from it. Due to the subject matter of the film, it of course does contain some violence, but nothing particularly gut-churning or that may put you off your dinner, although it certainly isn't one for the kids.
I'm not quite sure what star rating to give Freeway Killer. I want to award a full house for Scott Anthony Leet's acting, but would only dole out two for everything else, so I shall go middle ground and give it three.
At the time of writing, Freeway Killer can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £2.46 to £4.24
Used: none currently available
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but there this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Summary: Worth a watch, but only for the main actor's brilliance