My only complaint about this movie is the opening credits. Like Roman Polanski’s wonderful The Fearless Vampire Killers, too much is given away in the opening credits. Killers opens with some real lame animation, tacked on by the studio, I think, that gives away all the best jokes, like the gay vampire, the Jewish vampire (who naturally doesn’t fear the cross), and others. Here, we get some R. Crumb-style cartoons that drive home to us that this is a hip retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood story. I’d have much preferred to figure that out for myself. I know it wasn’t a big secret, but I might not have known.
That said, I really liked this. Reese Witherspoon (who was twenty, playing fifteen) is Vanessa, the daughter of a junkie streetwalker (Amanda Plummer), just about as low on the social ladder as it’s possible to be. Mom gets busted, and social services intends to place the girl with foster parents. She’s been that route many times before, and decides to bust out and head for the home of a grandma (get it?) she has never even met. Her car breaks down, and she is picked up by the charming Mr. Wolverton (get it?) (Kiefer Sutherland), a school councilor who also happens to be the notorious I-5 killer. He soon shows his true colors, and things look bad for Little Red Vanessa … and I don’t want to say much more than that, because what happens next was a big surprise to me. I’ll only say that little Vanessa is one of the spunkiest, most relentless, most in-your-face girls I’ve ever seen in the movies. This gal just never gives up, and you do not want to get in her way. This movie is as delightful in its own way as Hard Candy, where Ellen Page gets down and dirty with a pedophile. Highly recommended.