Best Road Trip Movies: Natural Born Killers Review
The archetypal road trip typically features family having fun, getting to know each other, and experiencing all kinds of amusing shenanigans while driving across the country. But sometimes, the best road trip movies can be about the struggle of those to whom we just can’t relate: psychotic serial killers who are on the run from the law. Serial killers like the two portrayed in Natural Born Killers.
Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) are husband and wife. When we first meet them, they are at a diner in New Mexico. Mallory is dancing to some music, when a group of men come into the diner. One starts dancing with Mallory, thinking today’s his lucky day, when suddenly Mallory smashes the beer bottle he’s drinking from. They begin fighting, and Mallory clearly has the upper hand. As the man’s friend gets up to help, Mickey enters the picture and cuts off one of his fingers, before slicing him multiple times until he’s dead. The two then kill everyone in the bar except for the one man, to whom they tell their names before they start making out and then leave. This becomes their thing, and throughout their killing spree from then on, they always leave one survivor to tell the tale.
From the first scene, it’s clear that inflicting pain on others is pure entertainment for Mickey and Mallory. As the movie progresses, we learn that Mallory was abused by her father as a child. She meets Mickey when he comes to her house as a deliveryman, and they instantly fall in love. They steal Mallory’s father’s car and take off, but Mickey is soon arrested for grand theft auto. However, it’s not long before he escapes from prison and heads back to Mallory’s house, where the two kill her parents and take off.
As Mickey and Mallory travel down Route 666 through New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, they claim the lives of 48 people. They soon become infamous and develop quite a following, which includes Detective Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore)—a published author and sociopath who has somewhat of an obsession with serial killers and seems particularly interested in Mallory—and Wayne Gale (Robert Downey, Jr.)—an Australian journalist whose show, “American Maniacs,” profiles mass murderers.
*Spoiler: Robert Downey Jr. sucks at Australian accents.*
After Mickey and Mallory are finally arrested, they are soon declared insane and scheduled to be moved to a mental institute. Detective Scagnetti liaises with the prison officer and secures a place as Mickey and Mallory’s driver for their transfer. The real plan, though, is for Scagnetti to murder the two when they are alone together and tell everyone that they tried to escape.
In the meantime, Wayne Gale has secured a live interview with Mickey from prison. While on TV, Mickey declares that he is a “natural born killer.” The other prisoners, who are watching the interview on TV, like Mickey’s way with words, and it inspires them to start a riot. This distracts the guards monitoring Mickey and Wayne’s interview, giving Mickey the upper hand. He soon kills most of the guards and takes the survivors hostage as a way to get out of prison unharmed. He stops by Mallory’s cell, where Scagnetti is attempting to seduce her. They kill Scagnetti and use the hostages to break out of prison and set themselves free.
As the movie ends, we see Mickey and Mallory years later, still on the road, driving in an RV with their two children and one on the way.
While the main vehicle in Natural Born Killers is by no means the star of the movie, it is nonetheless important to Mickey and Mallory as they travel along their path of destruction. The main car used by the characters is a rare 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T Convertible (only 963 were made for this model year). This classic car comes with a standard 335-horsepower 383 Magnum V8, although the R/T was also offered with a 375-hp 440, a 390-hp 440, and a 425-hp 426 Hemi. Only nine 1970 Challenger R/T models were built using the latter engine, making them by far the rarest.
To tie the Challenger in with the characters, one might argue that Mickey and Mallory are also rare commodities; at least in the eyes of their admirers. And, thanks to Wayne Gale and his show, which features interviews with real people (well, real in the movie) across the globe declaring their admiration for Mickey and Mallory, the killers are glorified, much like a rare car would be (although glorifying a classic car is obviously much more understandable than glorifying mass murderers).
Our Natural Born Killers Review
When I first watched Natural Born Killers, I found it to be extremely odd. I owned the movie for a number of years, and so I watched it at least a handful of times. And although it’s not my usual type of movie, there was something about it that was fascinating. Much like we watch shows like Hoarders simply to gawk at the craziness of others and to feel more secure with ourselves (“I might be a smoker, but at least I don’t hoard dogs in my tiny apartment”), we watch movies like Natural Born Killers to gawk at the strangeness of others. While I’d never claim that this movie is one of the best movies ever made, it’s certainly worth a watch, especially if you get exasperated at what our media chooses to report on—or not report on.
What it boils down to is this: the movie is essentially a satire which exposes the way the press glorifies violence, and while it’s ridiculous at times (prison escape on live television? Come on), it certainly drives the point across.
Catherine Hiles is a native Brit currently based in Dayton, Ohio. Don’t ask how that happened. Cat has written about a variety of subjects, from dog training to fashion, and counts running and cooking among her hobbies.
Cat lives with her husband, Ben; their daughter, Rose; and their collection of animals, including an energetic mutt, an elderly basset hound, and a jerk cat. See more articles by Cat.