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William Bonin was a real-life serial killer who murdered a number of young men in the Los Angeles area around 1980. The plot of "Freeway Killer" gives us a character study of this man as an adult already in the process of carrying out his evil schemes.
We see him as he entices young boys into his blue van; gets to know them with general chitchat; then, without warning, strikes, like some wild animal attacking its prey. As Bonin, Scott Anthony Leet gives a really fine, naturalistic performance, with emotions that run the gamut from cheerful normality to blatant hatred. Bonin had at least one accomplice, a young man named Vernon, well played by Dusty Sorg.
The film conveys some gore, though not a lot, mercifully. On the one hand, we do not want a sanitized version of Bonin or his crimes. But we also don't want gratuitous gore and violence that seem to sensationalize people and events. I think "Freeway Killer" strikes a reasonably good balance.
The guys being picked up by Bonin were so similar in age and appearance, they were almost interchangeable. I never did pay much attention to them; they were like stick figures. Any given victim could almost substitute for some other victim, so impersonal and fleeting were their roles in the script.
This is no police procedural; very little time is spent on police investigation. Also, there is no mystery here and very little suspense.
In this low-budget film cinematography is competent. There are lots of close-up shots, with emphasis on peoples' faces, showing their anger, desperation, fear, and deception. Rear-screen projections are noticeable in a few scenes.
Intended mostly for viewers with an interest in true crime, "Freeway Killer" zeroes in on the Bonin character, a madman with the demeanor of a normal guy who liked to mess with the minds of his prospective victims. I rate the film above average for its genre.
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