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Kalifornia -

This scary and insightful serial killer and road movie from the early '90s stars two of that decade's biggest stars before they became household names. David Duchovny is Brian, a student of serial killers who plans a cross-country road trip with stops at sites of grisly murders and Brad Pitt is Early, who's in tow and who's a poster child for background checks since he happens to be a killer himself. Joining them are Brian's photographer girlfriend Carrie (Michelle Forbes), who specializes in sexual imagery, and Early's sweet, naive and much too subservient partner Adele (Juliette Lewis). I like how much of an American story this is; after all, the passenger makeup is sort of a microcosm of the country considering the couples' privilege and wealth divide. During the trip, we observe other forms of division such as dilettante and practitioner and of course good and evil. In the couples' less than successful attempts at getting along, we not only witness each side's inability to understand the other but also their dependence. All the while, the movie gradually and expertly raises the stakes as Early's animalistic urges rub off on everyone and his true identity become clear, the climax of which hits hard in a brutal home invasion scene. The movie is far from perfect: while Pitt is terrifying as Early, there are times when his exaggerated accent and mannerisms border on caricature. Also, I liked Duchovny's voiceover narration, but it concludes in a way that is too pat for my liking. I still rank the movie as one of the '90s best serial killer movies alongside Se7en. Not to mention, neither Duchovny nor Pitt had the star power in 1993 that they had at the end of that decade, but I still say that this movie is criminally underseen (no pun intended).