Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.
This is the only Fairy Tale Friday so far I have had to put a disclaimer on. The film Freeway is violent, sweary and contains very sexually explicit dialogue, so if those things are likely to offend you then perhaps stay away from this week’s post. It was originally rated NC-17 but was reduced to R after some explicit dialogue was removed. But if you are willing to go along for the ride, it is a remarkable modern retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.
Spoilers ahead. You have been warned.
Our modern day Red Riding Hood is Vanessa Lutz, a poor illiterate teenage girl living in Los Angeles. The name Lutz is also the surname of the family who lived in terror in the house that became known as The Amityville Horror. I don't know if that is intentional, but it is a nice touch. Other ties to the story include her gang member boyfriend Chopper Woods and Bob Wolverton, a seemingly nice man who gives her a lift when her car breaks down, but proves himself to be more of a predator.
According to Wikipedia:
Vanessa's mother is arrested for prostitution and her stepfather is taken into custody on drug and child abuse charges. Rather than be taken into care and forced into a foster home, Vanessa takes the car and plans to go to her grandmother in Stockton. Along the way, Vanessa stops to see her boyfriend Chopper Wood, a local gang member, to tell him about her trip and he gives her a gun to sell upon arriving at her destination. Minutes after Vanessa leaves, Chopper is killed in a drive-by shooting by rival gang members. Later, Bob Wolverton, a counsellor at a school for boys with emotional trouble, picks her up after her car breaks down and offers to take her as far as Los Angeles where he is headed.
Over the long drive, Vanessa comes to trust Bob, and confesses to him the details of her painfully dysfunctional life, including being sexually abused by her stepfather. At one point, Vanessa shows Bob a photo she keeps in her wallet of her biological father. Bit of trivia: The photo that she shows him is actually of Richard Speck who murdered 8 nurses in 1966.
That evening, Bob reveals he is a serial killer of young girls – known in the press as the "I-5 Killer". He tries to kill Vanessa when she refuses to give in to him. The tables are turned, however, as Vanessa eventually pulls out her gun and shoots him several times before escaping. She goes to a local restaurant where her blood-stained appearance attracts attention from the patrons and staff.
Bob has survived, but the bullet wounds have left him severely handicapped and disfigured. Vanessa is put on trial, with everyone believing that Bob is the innocent victim he claims to be since he has no criminal record, while Vanessa has a long record and is a veteran of juvenile homes. Vanessa goes to prison, while Bob and his socialite wife Mimi, who knows nothing of his crimes, are treated like heroes.
The rest of the film follows Vanessa as she spends time in juvie, makes friends with a Hispanic gang leader and a heroin addicted lesbian. Using a sharpened toothbrush as a crude knife, she escapes, steals a car and once again heads towards her grandmother’s house.
When new evidence shows that Vanessa had told the truth, Bob's home is searched, violent child pornography is found, and his wife told about their suspicions. Mimi commits suicide. Bob finds the police at his home, and flees to Vanessa's grandmother's place, a trailer park. The address was found on the photograph Vanessa shared with Bob.
When Vanessa arrives at her grandmother's house she finds Bob in bed wearing her grandmother's nightgown and nightcap with the covers pulled up to his nose. His big sharp teeth can be seen above the blanket. Bob reveals himself and Vanessa sees her grandmother's body on the floor. A struggle ensues, culminating in Vanessa strangling Bob. Vanessa eventually exits the trailer exhausted after her struggle and finds the detectives waiting for her. They enter to find Bob and Vanessa's grandmother both dead.
Here is the scene where she finds out that Bob Wolverton is planning to kill her and "do sex to her body after she's dead." This phrase "do sex to me" always stands out to me as it is a perfect example of someone who has been sexually abused and has never had a loving consensual relationship. Even with her boyfriend Chopper Wood, she is like to to be no more than a passive receptacle for semen. I also really love the fact that Vanessa cannot shoot Bob until she has found out if he believes in Jesus as his lord and saviour. It is an unexpected moment that shows her vulnerability.
Here is the court scene where it really looks like Vanessa is the baddie and Bob is goodie, but as we know things are not always as they seem.
Finally, the ending.
That's all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a Little Red Riding Hood version where you can't tell who is the predator and who is the prey.