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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

River’s Edge (1986)


Those damn Metal head stoners are always killing those girls for no reason.

A troubled high school slacker, Samson (Daniel Roebuck), kills his girlfriend for no particular reason and shows off her dead body to his friends Layne (Crispin Glover) and Matt (Keanu Reeves), whose reactions vary about whether to involve the police.

After watching ‘Bully’ a long long time ago, I realized that there were more stories like that one out there, and it soon started to make me realize something: Teens love to kill people.

Writer Neal Jimenez does a very good job at showing these kids as none other than complete alienated misfits, that don’t really have any effect from a murder of one of their own friends. You get the real idea that these kids have no idea what to do or even think after this shocking murder has just happened, and it seems like they also don’t even really care. This is a little shocking no matter how many years go by, but that can’t be said about the rest of the film.

Even though this film starts off very strong, it really starts to fall apart pretty easily. The plot goes into places that seem totally ridiculous because of actually focusing on this disturbing story at hand, we start to go into a pretty cheesy teen-romance, a 12 year-old (who is terribly annoying) looking for a gun, Crispin Glover running all-over-the-place talking like a mental patient, and Dennis Hopper talking about a blow-up sex-doll as if it has been his wife for the past 30 years. I’m all down for a little bit of creepiness here and there but the real story at hand, seemed so much more interesting than what any of these little annoying sub-plots or happenings even showed.

The gritty look of it has something to be admired, but many times I felt like the film could have been so much better with it’s real portrayal of these punk kids in a suburban town. These kids don’t give a damn at all, which was understood by about the 20-minute mark, but to have the whole film go on and not shed any light on the murder, why it happened, and what these kids are going to do to get by it, seemed pretty dumb to me. These kids are alienated from the rest of the world around them, I get it, but please show me something that can actually glue me into the story rather than just drag me along.

However, when I looked down on everything, I thought about the cast and that’s kind of when I eased up a bit since there are some real good performances here. Keanu Reeves plays his usual dumb-ass role here as Matt, but he does a great job with this character and gives a lot of his more emotional scenes, a believability that this character needed to actually work. Ione Sky is alright as Clarissa but I never understood why she’s so remarkable as a female character; Daniel Roebuck is a little weird as our killer for the hour and 39 minutes, John; and Dennis Hopper is great as Feck, this total nutty drug-dealer that holds on to a blow-up doll like I mentioned before, but the catch here is that he’s the good guy in this whole film.

The best performance from the whole cast is probably the one and only Crispin Glover as Layne, the total speed-freak that takes this whole film over with every scene he gets. Glover does a great job with this character because he’s doped out on his pills and weirdness that when it comes down to something real and dramatic like this murder, he doesn’t know what to do and panics every chance he has. Glover is perfect at creating this character that’s a little nutty, mean, raw, but also very emotionally attached to the world around him and was my favorite thing about this film.

Consensus: River’s Edge has some nice bleak touches on teenage society that may seem disturbing to most, but as the film transcends, it turns into this ludicrous, silly, and otherwise lame way of trying to get an interesting story out there that should have been more gripping. Check out ‘Bully’ instead.

5.5/10=Rental!!

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3 responses to “River’s Edge (1986)

  1. Dave enkosky February 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Although I agree this movie isn’t perfect, I really dig Hopper’s performance; and I think it’s good enough to elevate the entire movie.

  2. Evan Crean February 15, 2012 at 2:33 am

    I saw Bully recently and I felt disturbed for several days, so if this one is in the same vein, no thanks haha. Crispin Glover is a weird guy, so it doesn’t surprise me that he plays one well in this movie. I still think Keanu’s finest performance is Ted Theodore Logan in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It will be tough for him to top in my mind.

  3. 3guys1movie February 19, 2012 at 4:34 am

    We used to watch this all the time back in the day. This was one of about a dozen films we had on VHS at the time. I have not seen this in years but it was really strange as I recall. Doesn’t Dennis Hopper have some awesome line about eating so much p%$#$ his beard looke like a glazed doughnut?

    nice post Dan I am going to have to re-watch this

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