River's Edge (1986)

River's Edge (1986), directed by Tim Hunter.

A deranged high school kid murders his girlfriend for no reason. He doesn't care who knows or if he gets caught. Their circle of friends go down to the river bank to view the body but do nothing about it. They seem emotionally numb and have no moral foundation. The naked body is undiscovered for several days.

The story is bleak but not unredeemed. There is justice of a sort and the Bad recognizes and separates itself from the Worse. We have blossoming young love (sleeping bags in the park) and reconciliation with a vicious kid brother.

The plot is diffused by some secondary characters (the ex-radical teacher, Mom's boyfriend) but that shows what the kids put up with: nothing around them is worth a damn.

This made a big splash in my little circle back then but I never see it mentioned any more. My initial response was probably similar to what people felt when watching "juvenile delinquent" films of the 1950s: "Amoral little bastards. Wish someone would smack them around."

Many fine performances:

Feck is the outlaw wild man until he encounters the real psycho; we see him sobering up and becoming more grounded when exposed to something worse than himself. Hopper is great in the role; he did this about the same time as Blue Velvet (1986).


Feck: I killed a girl, it was no accident. Put a gun to the back of her head and blew her brains right out the front. I was in love.

Samson: I strangled mine.

Feck: Did you love her?

Samson: She was okay.


Samson: Are you some kind of psycho?

Feck: No, I'm normal. Are you a psycho?

Samson: I must be. It's the only excuse for me.

The dialogue has plenty of dark humor:


Mom: Where did you get that dope?

Son: Don't worry, it's not yours.

[and later...]

Son: The only reason you stay here is so you can **** my mother and eat her food. Mother******! Food eater!

Nudity and brief passion. Netflix doesn't have the DVD.