The Reel Review

D

A celebrity animal trainer traveling with his ice-skating chimpanzee picks up a hitchhiker along Route 66 in 1964 Death Valley, only to discover his passenger is a serial killer. Zachary Quinto and Jacob Elordi (Saltburn, Euphoria) star in this crime thriller based on a true story.

Zachary Quinto and Jacob Elordi in He Went That Way

From a cast of unlikable and unsympathetic characters, a child actor in an unconvincing chimpanzee suit, and a flimsily written story from Evan M.  Wiener (Big Sky, Monogamy) that lacks drama, He Went That Way is consistent only in that it repeatedly goes the wrong way, failing to adequately explain why the animal trainer went all Stockholm syndrome in befriending this deranged psychopath.

Jacob Elordi in He Went That Way

Even the performances by Quinto and Elordi feel phoned in. The only positive aspect of this terrible, off-putting film is the cinematography, with the Southern California desert standing in for New Mexico.

REEL FACTS

• Australian director Jeffrey Darling, 60, died in March 2022 while surfing near Sydney, prior to the editing of his debut film. Darling was an acclaimed commercials director, creating TV ads for more than 150 brands, including Jaguar, Boeing, Coca-Cola, BMW and Louis Vuitton.

• Rumor Willis, daughter of Bruce Willis, has a small role in the film as a woman in the convertible.

Left: 1950s photo of Dave Pitts and Spanky and right: Larry Ranes in 1964 just after his arrest.

He Went That Way was inspired by chimpanzee trainer Dave Pitts’ real-life encounter with hitchhiker Larry Lee Ranes, who had already killed another driver with whom he’d hitched a ride and two gas station attendants when they met. After his capture, Ranes was sentenced to life in prison for one of the five killings for which he was accused. Ranes and his serial killer brother Danny died in 2023 and 2022, respectively.

 

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