Kalifornia is a 1993 thriller/road film, directed by Dominic Sena and starring Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, David Duchovny, and Michelle Forbes. The film focuses on a psychology student and his girlfriend who are traveling cross-country to research serial killers; unbeknownst to them, a man who ends up tagging along with them on their trip (accompanied by his childlike girlfriend) is a serial killer himself.
Brian Kessler (David Duchovny) is a psychology graduate student and a journalist authoring a book about serial killers. He's persuaded to move to California by his photographer girlfriend Carrie Laughlin (Michelle Forbes), and when his book project is accepted by a publisher they decide to do both at once by driving from Pittsburgh to California and visiting infamous murder sites along the way. Short on funds, Brian posts a ride-share ad. Meanwhile, parolee Early Grayce (Brad Pitt) has just lost his job. His parole officer (Judson Vaughn) learns of his firing and arrives at the rented travel-trailer home where Early lives with his young girlfriend Adele Corners (Juliette Lewis). Early refuses the officer's offer of a job, saying that he wants to leave the state. The officer informs him that if he doesn't keep the appointment he will be arrested on parole violation charges and returned to prison. Early apparently decides to go to the appointment about the job and when he's on his way out is confronted by his landlord over non-payment of rent. Early grows violent and spins out in his car chasing his landlord all over the yard scaring the man. Early then spies Brian's ad when he goes to see about the college janitor job that his parole officer has set up, calls Brian and agrees to meet them early the following morning. Early sends Adele ahead, then (as revealed later in the movie) murders his landlord, buries the body, and torches the trailer before joining Adele to wait for Brian and Carrie. Although Carrie's first response upon sight of the rough-hewn couple is to suggest Brian turn the car around and leave, Brian chides her for being judgmental and asks her to give the plan a chance. She reluctantly agrees. On the road Early murders a man in a gas station bathroom and steals his money to pay for gas un-beknownst to Adele, Brian and Carrie, then cuts Adele's hair short to match Carries when they arrive at the first hotel saying she looked prettier than before. Later on down the road they stop and get hotel rooms, Early invites Brian out to play pool leaving Adele and Carrie alone together. Adele who reveals she is a rape victim to Carrie explains she views Early as her protector, even though he doesn't allow her to drink, smoke or swear (consequence being whipped or beatings). She thinks Early has her best interest at heart and loves her dearly. Adele then proceeds to tell Carrie she hasn't talked to her mother in over a year, because her mother didn't approve of Early seeing as he just got out of jail when they started dating. Carrie becomes upset with Brian's growing fascination with Early and his nonchalant behavior when she tells him about the jail time and gives him an ultimatum; either they rid themselves of Early and Adele at the next stop or she will leave. At the next gas station Carrie glimpses a newscast with security-camera footage of Early and announcement of a manhunt for the suspected murderer. Early takes the couple hostage, kills the gas-station attendant, and the trip continues with Early in control. They encounter two police officers, who are shot by Early. Early puts a gun in Brian's hand and orders him to finish off one of the wounded officers, saying that Brian couldn't write about serial killers if he'd never taken a life himself, but Brian throws the gun aside. They press on until they come to the home of an elderly couple. Early beats the man to death, but Adele frees the man's wife, who flees. As Early rushes outside to try to find the woman, Adele confronts Early and tells him she wants nothing more to do with him because he's mean and he hurt so many people. Enraged, Early shoots Adele, strikes Brian on the head and leaves him for dead, and kidnaps Carrie. Brian regains consciousness and the elderly woman gives him the keys to her old truck. Brian arrives at an abandoned nuclear testing site and surprises Early, hitting him in the head with a shovel. Brian finds Carrie in shock from being raped, bloody and handcuffed to a bed, but is then caught by Early, who was only stunned by the blow. Brian and Early struggle until Brian recovers a gun dropped by Early and shoots him dead after Carrie hits Early in the head with a test dummie leg as sirens are heard in the distance. The film ends with Brian and Carrie in a California beach house. Carrie is excited to tell Brian that an art gallery in Venice is interested in her art. Brian suggests they go out to lunch to celebrate, and leaves his tape player on as they leave. Adele's voice is heard as she talks about how good Carrie and Brian were as friends to her and Early and how much their friendship means to her.