Freeway Killer (2010)
(15) Running time: 84 minutes
Directed by: John Murlowski
Writer: David Birke
Starring: Tyler Neitzel, Michael Rooker, Thomas Curtis, Scott Anthony Leet
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
The Freeway Killer is a fact based horror all about one of the most notorious serial killers of California, William Bonin. The guy picked up hitchhikers and their bodies were later found mutilated, beaten and sexually assaulted. Sadly, the violence on offer here does not really point to the fact this killer was vicious. There are killings, but they are quite tame in comparison to some of the violence you see in todays horror, but then this film is on a budget, and it seems director John Murlowski was more interested in Bonin as a character study. It works too, thanks to a menacing and at times quite unsettling performance by Scott Anthony Leet as Bonin. The actor really gets under your skin and at times, becomes quite frightening as he either searches for victims or loses his temper with his one and only true friend Alex (Tyler Nietzel)
The whole film is a rather uncomfortable watch from start to finish, but uncomfortable in a gritty, b-movie kind of way. If anything, the look and feel of the film reminded me of the Video Nasty’s with their often dodgy camera work and grainy design. Sometimes the lower the production values the more unsettling the film becomes. That’s not to say the film is brilliant, but it is actually very watchable and is an in depth character study of a serial killer with a serious twisted mind. Throughout the film it seems that Bonin is desperate for a companion, someone to share in his killings and he finds that person in Billy Pugh (Thomas Curtis), a graffiti artist he finds on the streets. In his camper van, Bonin picks up another hitchhiker and asks Billy to join him in killing this poor lad in a nasty scene involving a knife and probably the films strongest display of violence. Once ‘initiated’, Billy becomes Bonin’s new best friend, much to the annoyance of Alex who becomes incredibly jealous. Tensions run high, and Alex and Billy begin to fall out and all this stress causes Bonin to panic, have his two accomplices seen too much, can he trust them?
Leet superbly plays a panic stricken serial killer as he starts to collapse into paranoia, he sweats, shouts and carries on killing while always looking out his window and getting more and more angry. It does all come to a head, and suddenly we are introduced to a new character played by Michael Rooker. I won’t say who he plays, but it was a nice tough having him appear in a serial killer film since he played Henry Lee Lucas in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, one of the finest films of the genre. To say too much more about the plot would seriously hinder your enjoyment, but this is not a bad study of a serial killer desperate to kill, but also desperate for someone to share it with. Bonin is a strange and often scary man and as the film continues, it seems like his eyes get darker and more intense as his temper gets worse. A clever, if flawed film that can easily be thought of as one of the better serial killer films to have been released in recent years.