River's Edge Movie Review

Long before Laura Palmer's body was discovered wrapped in plastic, poor Jamie was strangled to death aside a lonely river, her unrepentant killer John (a creepy Daniel Roebuck, the guy who played Jay Leno in The Late Shift) taking it upon himself to prove to his friends what he's done. He's not giddy about it, he just wants acknowledgement and, somehow, understanding.

A gripping study of teen ambivalence and the utter lack of angst, River's Edge is a creepy, powerful, and underseen picture that features some virtuoso performances (notably Crispin Glover's Layne, who organizes an ill-conceived campaign to get John out of town). Featuring some of the most inventive and believable dialogue, the locals (including Keanu Reeves and Ione Skye as the only kids even remotely bothered by the death of their friend) are at a loss for what to do. Atmospheric and numbing, the picture is an obvious precursor to Twin Peaks, and a better template David Lynch couldn't have found. The story is loosely based on a real murder, which makes it all the more chilling.

Oddly, both writer Neal Jimenez and director Tim Hunter would go on to lackluster careers, with Jimenez writing mostly schlock horror scripts (the last, Hideaway, in 1995) and Hunter directing a lot of TV junk (though he did ironically work on Twin Peaks).

Comments

River's Edge Rating

" Extraordinary "

Rating: R, 1986

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