Kalifornia is a 1993 American road thriller film directed by Dominic Sena and starring Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes
The film is about a graduate student named Brian Kessler (David Duchovny) who travels cross-country with his photographer girlfriend Carrie (Michelle Forbes) to research serial killers & they unknowingly carpool with a serial killer named Early Grayce (Brad Pitt) & his girlfriend Adele (Juliette Lewis).
- Brad Pitt as Early Grayce
- Juliette Lewis as Adele Corners
- David Duchovny as Brian Kessler
- Michelle Forbes as Carrie Laughlin
Originally titled "California," the script was written by Tim Metcalfe with Stephen Levy in 1987.
Metcalfe later commented their intentions were "to scare an audience, to comment on our national obsession with 'true crime' stories, and to punish myself for my morbid preoccupation with the subject of murder and murderers."
The script was optioned in November of 1990 by Propaganda Films by request of director Dominic Sena. Sena would go on to mention his positive impression on the script was mainly based on the premise and the character of Early Grayce.
Between November 1990 and March of 1991, Metcalfe completed two rewrites of the script to implement changes requested by Sena and Propaganda Films.
The characters of Brian and Carrie were given professions as a writer and a photographer, respectively while retaining the original premise to share a ride with a serial killer.
Metcalfe disagreed on the direction the script was being developed while Sena and the producers found his rewrites "uninspiring".
In March of 1991, Metcalfe was fired from the project & without the budget to hire another writer, Sena (along with his two producers) spent another year writing ten subsequent drafts of the script.
Their contributions included the voice-over narration of the character of Brian, along with a change of tone from a black comedy to a more violent thriller.
Sena maintained the rewrites helped them to secure the cast, as well as an increase to the originally proposed budget of $4.5 million.
"Kalifornia" debuted at #17 at the box office, grossing $1,159,133 during its opening weekend and grossed $2,395,231 domestically.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie was given a rating of 67% based on 24 reviews with an average rating of 6.2\10.
Roger Ebert gave the movie a rating of four stars, saying it was "such a film - terrifying and horrifying, yes, but also unflinchingly honest, and so well acted that for most of the film I abandoned any detachment and just watched it as if I were observing the lives of real people".
Pamela Bruce from the Austin Chronicle described it as "hillbilly white trash squalor collides head-on with the urban artsy, always-dressed-in-black set in this moderately suspenseful crime drama that bears a slightly suspicious resemblance to Terrence Malick's 1973 film Badlands (complete with an irritating and unnecessary narration by one of the characters)".
Joe Brown from the Washington Post said the movie "trains to make a case for its own redeeming social value in the form of Brian's portentous voice-over musings on the nature of killers, but it's just tedious twaddle".
1994 Saturn Awards
- Best Horror Film (nominated)
- Best Actress: Michelle Forbes (nominated)
- Best Writing: Tim Metcalfe (nominated)
1993 Deauville Film Festival
- Critics Award: Dominic Sena (nominated)
1994 Montréal International Festival of Films on Art
- Jury Prize for Cinematography: Bojan Bazelli (won)
1993 Montréal World Film Festival 1993
- Best Artistic Contribution: Dominic Sena (won)
- FIPRESCI Prize Official Competition: Dominic Sena (won)
1993 Thessaloniki Film Festival
- Best Screenplay: Tim Metcalfe (won)