September 3, 1997 0 By Fans
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A twisted take on 'Little Red Riding Hood' with a teenage juvenile delinquent on the run from a social worker traveling to her grandmother's house and being hounded by a charming, but sadistic, serial killer/pedophile.

Release Year: 1996

Rating: 6.8/10 (15,993 voted)

Critic's Score: 61/100

Matthew Bright

Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland, Bokeem Woodbine

Little Red Riding Hood for the 1990's: After her mom and step-dad are arrested, 15-year-old Vanessa Lutz decides that instead of once again being put into a foster home, she'd rather go and search for the grandmother she's never met, and live with her. "On the way to grandma's house," (actually a trailer park) Vanessa's car breaks down, and she's picked up from the side of the road by Bob Wolverton, a counselor at a school for troubled boys. Bob slowly earns Vanessa's trust, and eventually convinces her to talk about her sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather. When Vanessa realizes that Bob is enjoying what she's saying, she realizes that he's "The I-5 Killer," from the news. She tries to get out of his truck, but the inside door handle has been removed…


Kiefer Sutherland

Bob Wolverton

Reese Witherspoon

Vanessa Lutz

Bokeem Woodbine


Paul Perri

Cop #1

Robert Peters

Cop #2

Ben Meyerson

Cop at Truckstop

Craig Barnett

Cop #3

G. Eric Miles

Cop #4

Wolfgang Bodison

Detective Mike Breer

Dan Hedaya

Detective Garrett Wallace

Chris Renna


Kathleen Marshall

ER Nurse

Melinda Renna

Female Anchor

Guillermo Díaz


Kitty Fox

Naomi Frohlegger – Grandma

Her life is no fairy tale.

Release Date: 3 September 1997

Filming Locations: Encino, Los Angeles, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $3,000,000


Opening Weekend: $14,945
(25 August 1996)
(6 Screens)

Gross: $295,493
(13 March 1997)

Technical Specs


(cut version)

Did You Know?


The photo of Vanessa's father that she shows to Bob is of mass murderer Richard Speck.


The location of Bob relative to the car changes after he gets out and Vanessa shoots him to the floor.


Well you don't have to worry about him anymore. I took care of him.

Detective Garnet Wallace:
Mr. Wolverton is in critical condition, but he's not dead.

Oh, yeah right. I shot him so many times.

User Review

That's not all I did to grandma.


While watching this film I was disgusted, disturbed, and horrified
while all the while LOVING THIS FILM. Living in a house where fairy
tale literature is commonplace (my wife studies Children's Literature),
I was surprised by this film. Seeing it in the value bin at most video
stores, I expected poor production, horrible direction, and a pathetic
cast. We have all seen these films that boast big names, but somehow
never fully follow through. Freeway is nothing of the kind. It is a
carefully written and delivered retelling of one of our most beloved
fairy tales with a extremely dark twist.

Reece Witherspoon (pre-Legally Blonde) gives a performance that
surprised me. I did not realize that she was so capable of bringing
this character to life. Her counterpart, the illustrious 'Wolf', played
by 80s child Keifer Sutherland, is yet another powerful force in this
film. The two of them nearly carry this film on their shoulders. This
is one of those perfect examples of a film that did not have much
publicity after its release, but has since then obtained 'cult' status
through avid viewer's word of mouth. This is definitely a film for all
movie critics, film buffs, and fanatics to gaze at just once. I know
there were some poor reviews when it was first released, but I am sure
that a second viewing would bring this gem back to life.

I would also like to add that director Matthew Bright is a film genius.
He successfully took a very wholesome and good natured story (or that
we think) and transforms it into the fearsome dark story that it should
be. Our society has the consistency of taking dark elements and
transforming them into stories for our children. A wolf eats a
grandmother in this story … how happy and uplifting is that? I applaud
Bright for taking this story and transforming it into a modern day
fairy tale. It is gripping, fascinating, and downright beautiful.

If you enjoyed Natural Born Killers and was hoping for a nicer twist,
this film is your answer. I also suggest that if you couldn't get
enough of Freeway that you try to get your hands on the very rare
Freeway 2: Confessions of a Trickbaby. See how Bright delicately
transforms yet another dark fairy tale (Hansel and Gretel) into a
modern masterpiece.

Grade: ***** out of *****