188 user 62 critic

Kalifornia (1993)

2:32 | Trailer
A journalist duo go on a tour of serial killer murder sites with two companions, unaware that one of them is a serial killer himself.


Dominic Sena


Stephen Levy (story), Tim Metcalfe (story) | 1 more credit »
4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Brad Pitt ... Early Grayce
Kathy Larson Kathy Larson ... Teenage Girl (as Catherine Larson)
David Milford David Milford ... Driver
David Duchovny ... Brian Kessler
John Zarchen ... Peter
David Rose David Rose ... Eric
Michelle Forbes ... Carrie Laughlin
Tommy Chappelle Tommy Chappelle ... Old Man
Juliette Lewis ... Adele Corners
Judson Vaughn ... Parole Officer
James Michael McDougal James Michael McDougal ... John Diebold (as J. Michael McDougal)
Patricia Sill Patricia Sill ... Carol
Brett Rice ... Police Officer
Marisa Raper Marisa Raper ... Little Girl
Bill Crabb Bill Crabb ... Middle Aged Farmer (as Bill Crabbe)


Brian Kessler, a journalist researching serial killers, and his photographer girlfriend Carrie set out on a cross-country tour of the sites of the killings. Sharing the ride and their expenses are Early Grayce, a paroled white trash criminal, and his girlfriend Adele. As the trip progresses, Early begins to appear more and more unstable, and Brian and Carrie begin to fear that they may have a real-life killer in the back seat of their car. Written by Scott Renshaw <as.idc@forsythe.stanford.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


fear never travels alone See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, and for sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Following the release of the movie, DC Comics commissioned a comic book adaptation to coincide with the movie's video release in 1994. The adaptation was to be written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Duncan Fegredo. The adaptation was never finished, except for some coloring work done by Danny Vozzo. It's speculated that this was due to the demise of Gramercy Pictures, who owned the rights to the film. A version of the incomplete comic has been since uploaded to the Internet. See more »


Early Grayce seems to be driving two different Pontiac Grand Prix in the opening scenes; the headlights differ. See more »


Early Grayce: Got them both on the dead run.
Adele Corners: No! No, no, no Early!
Early Grayce: Come on, momma.
[Walks over to Brian who is standing over the wounded cop]
Early Grayce: Tell me that don't hurt. Here.
[Hands Brian a gun while pointing another one at his head]
Brian Kessler: What?
Early Grayce: Gotta put that crippled dog out of his misery. You wanna know about it, you gotta do it, son. Shoot him. Come on, lay it on in there. Come on, mean boy. Come on, mean boy. Do it! Shoot him! Shoot the dog! Time to live, boy. Shoot him. Come on. Go! Go, mean boy.
[Brian drops the gun]
Early Grayce: ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

European release and US video/laserdisc unrated versions feature about one minute of additional violent footage not present in US theatrical R-rated version. Unrated version of sex scene between Brian and Carrie is slightly longer and more explicit than the R rated version. See more »


Featured in The Making of 'Kalifornia' (1997) See more »


Written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant
See more »

User Reviews

Gripping and disturbing.
25 September 2007 | by theskylabadventureSee all my reviews

I had seen this film many years ago and it had made a lasting impression on me. Alas, I have hardened to many films over the years and did not expect to be impressed by 'Kalifornia' upon watching again recently. I am pleased to say that it is every bit as unnerving and watchable as it was ten or so years ago.

There are two things which really give this movie its power. The first is its cast. We have a staggeringly disturbing turn by a young Brad Pitt as Early Grace. Knowing Pitt, as we all do, as one of the most enduring heart-throbs Hollywood has ever had, it is refreshing to see him play such a vile, unattractive character. Pitt pulls the show off without resorting to white-trash cliché or parody, and manages to remain genuinely terrifying throughout the movie.

Juliette Lewis is equally impressive as Grace's tragic girlfriend, playing the character like a ten year old girl with a forty year old's life experience. Lewis manages to evoke pity (for her character's station in life) as well as contempt (for her naivety), but she underpins her performance with the kind of subtlety rarely seen by an actor so young. Personally, I think it's a tragedy that neither Pitt nor Lewis were nominated for any awards for their performances here.

David Duchovony and Michelle Forbes are both perfectly cast as the yuppy couple who unwittingly end up travelling across the US with Pitt and Lewis. Duchovony is aptly geeky and naive, and Forbes seems emphatically cynical and shut-off, but both actors manage to convincingly portray their characters' changes as they are equally intrigued, repulsed and strangely attracted to Pitt.

The fine casting and uniformly brilliant acting aside, this film really grabs us by the proverbial balls through its flawless pacing. At the time 'Kalifornia' was released, Hollywood was releasing a slew of nice-character-turns-out-to-be-psychotic movies ('Single White Female', 'Pacific Heights', 'The Hand That Rocks The Cradle', 'Deceived', 'Sleeping With The Enemy' etc). Most of these movies followed the same formula, the only variation being the nature of the relationship between good guy and bad guy. 'Kalifornia' doesn't really stray too far from this territory, but its first two acts are the perfect example of the slow-boil thriller, and we are kept on the very edge of our seats waiting for the tide to turn.

When the penny does drop, and Pitt is let loose to play the maniacal bad guy, the film shifts gears completely and the last twenty minutes don't quite live up to rest of the movie. That said, the action is thick and fast and the resolution is suitable cold. The fight is over, but the scars will always be there.

Much of the narration (provided by a somewhat whiny, pre X-files Duchovony) is a tad contrived. Of course, it's meant to be from the book the Duchovony's journalist character has written, so one could argue that the self-conscious narration is meant to be a nod to the kind of sensationalised style in which most journalists write.

The film is largely a success and is certainly a cut above 90% of the thrillers of the past twenty years. Highly recommended, but not for the weak of stomach or mind. This film is disturbing on more than one level. But then, it's meant to be.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 188 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »






Release Date:

3 September 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Kalifornia See more »


Box Office


$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,159,133, 6 September 1993

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (unrated)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page

Recently Viewed