As teen movies exploded in popularity in the 1980s, there was a tendency towards formulaic happy endings. In direct contrast to this was Tim Hunter’s chilling River’s Edge, which held a mirror to the dark side of American youth.
Loosely based on a real case, the film begins with a young man sitting beside the body of the girlfriend he has just strangled. Returning to school, he tells his friends, and brings them to see her. Casually amoral and apathetic, the group seems unsure as to the correct response; some discuss reporting the crime to the police, others want to protect the killer out of a sense of loyalty. It is this moral ambivalence, almost indifference that marks the film as one of the most authentically powerful of the genre.
Screening as part of Teenage Kicks: American Teens on Film (August 4th – 28th).