When I first saw “Freeway” in high school, I didn’t quite know what I had just watched but I knew it was weirdly compelling, and it led me to the works of cult director Gregg Araki. So, if you’re into movies like “The Doom Generation” and “Nowhere,” you shouldn’t let this movie’s A-list cast discourage you from expecting an absolutely demented, screamingly politically incorrect dark comedy that practically dares you to shut it off. I mean, not a lot of movies extract deliberately juvenile humor from shocking child abuse, but “Freeway” does: It’s not so much that it reduces the subject to a few cheap lines, but that it uses offensively glib humor about such a serious topic in order to confront its own audience with their complacency with actual, IRL child abuse. After all, how can you claim to be offended by child abuse being used for humor when you’re also unwilling to discuss the topic candidly with others and work on solutions for the betterment of society, the movie asks you repeatedly. It’s that kind of in-your-face, you’re-a-fucking-hypocrite attitude that makes the movie so electrifying; director-screenwriter Matthew Bright is so down with dragging you out of your comfort zone kicking and screaming to shake you up about real-life epidemics across America that result from a predatory free enterprise system combined with flagrantly indifferent and corrupt branches of government, that he leaves you blushing in the end. Oh, and did I mention it’s also a demented retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood”? Because it’s also a demented retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Admittedly the movie’s pretty sloppy from a filmmaking perspective in that low-budget, mid-’90s indie-cheapie kind of way (not unlike the aforementioned Araki), but there’s just so many hot-button issues being impaled on a variety of spikes throughout the movie that it’s impossible not to respect the hell out of it.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)