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River's Edge (1987)



Average Rating: 5.3/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 8,719

My Rating

Movie Info

Based on a true story, a group of apathetic high school students learn that a friend has killed his girlfriend, and after they are shown the body, decline to inform the police.



Neal Jimenez

Jan 23, 2001


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May 19, 2005:
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All Critics (38) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (33) | Rotten (5) | DVD (10)

The triumph of this bleak, unsettling picture is that, no matter how grim it gets, it's far too involving for you to turn away.

November 11, 2013 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

River's Edge is a contemporary horror story about teen-agers, but it contains no slasher scenes or serial homicides. Its monsters are all too real.

November 11, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An unusually downbeat and depressing youth pic.

July 18, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
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It's more a success than a failure, if only because the confusions are so protean.

July 18, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
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There are some good, frightening scenes of volatile lunacy, but the whole thing badly lacks a controlling distance and perspective.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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Bitter and disturbing.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A powerful sociological film on white teenage alienation in small-town America, that is even more amazing that it's based on an actual event.

April 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

One of the most haunting films of the 1980s, River's Edge looks at a suburban, postpunk generation which has no causes, no morals, no feelings, and, worst of all, no future.

July 18, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Based on an actual incident in Northern California, Tim Hunter's controversial indie addresses the growing alienation and moral vacancy among youths growing up in drug-oriented and media-saturated society; Keanu Reeves is perfectly cast.

December 14, 2006 Full Review Source: Screendaily

The silliest work of the '80s.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat | Comments (4)
Film Threat

A Film you'll never forget....Crispin Glover and Ione Skye are unforgettable

June 11, 2005 | Comment (1)

Disturbing, overlooked, excellent film.

September 10, 2004
Juicy Cerebellum

One of the most chilling portraits of misguided youth put to film.

July 27, 2003
Nitrate Online

Probes the breakdown of moral fiber in one community and its tragic results.

July 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Beautifully photographed by Frederick Elmes, the visuals are often at odds with the barreness at the movie's core.

March 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Unflinching, tough, rough and fascinating.

October 29, 2002

A creepy, powerful, and underseen picture that features some virtuoso performances.

July 25, 2001 Full Review Source:

still holds the power to unsettle and disturb

February 27, 2001
Q Network Film Desk

Exposes the brutal realities of life for alienated youth, and does it by imposing a strange emotional distance on the audience.

February 13, 2001 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Audience Reviews for River's Edge

If there is genius to be found here it is most certainly in the casting of off-center actors (i.e. Crispin Glover and Dennis Hopper) to play off-center characters. Creepy and dark in a light-hearted '80s sort of way.
April 16, 2012
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

A high schooler kills his girlfriend, and his friends have varied reactions, some attempting to help him escape, others apathetic, and others telling the police.
I've read the many reviews that describe this film as an exploration of the then-contemporary distance between action and morality and stimulus and morality, but this theme isn't explored; it's shown in the characters' actions then interpreted for us by the one of the adult characters. And how can Crispin Glover's performance be called anything except over-acting at its worse. Glover's characteristic dorky, halting delivery is accentuated to the nth degree, and Layne is so ridiculous that it is unbelievable that even John would hang out with him. What's worse, because Canoehead hasn't an original, creative bone in his body, he picks up Glover's mannerisms, and the scenes between Layne and Matt become so obnoxiously entrenched in a cliched surfer culture that I felt myself get stupider.
In the story, there is no suspense or mystery. We know early on who tells the cops, and though it's structured like In Cold Blood, where the gory details of the murder provide the story's climax, by the time the killer's reasons are revealed, I had already lost interest.
Overall, there are people who see profundity in River's Edge, but I'm not one of them.
October 9, 2011
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

An over-acted but nonetheless arresting study in blind loyalty concerning a small town and its younger inhabitants (Crispin Glover, Keanu Reeves, among others), and how their social circle is rocked by the inexplicable murder by one of their friends after he kills his girlfriend, and doesn't appear to be showing any remorse for it nor concern for what lies ahead for him. While, as said, the acting gets a little too dramatic at times, the performances are still undeniably effective, notably Glover, who uses a grating, whiny voice that is the perfect foil to his wannabe "leader" character. Reeves is equally impressive because, well, he just really seems to naturally get his character, even if some "Woah dude!" moments creep in once in a while. Unlike "Bully", another film that dealt with a murder amongst a group of friends and how they dealt with it, director Tim Hunter never indulges himself in gratuitous nudity, and he actually makes you feel for one or two of his characters (Dennis Hopper's is especially tragic), which is very important to the overall success and impact this story aims to have. It isn't a masterpiece, or even a "great" movie, but it is a solid one, and one that deserves a view based on the sad fact that this story is based on real events that took place in the early 80's.
August 8, 2011
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

My absolute favourite teenage drama/thriller of the 80s. It has an excellent cast, a great (and true) story, and it's even got a bit of humor. I highly recommend this movie.
January 21, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Samson "John" Tollette: She was dead there in front of me and I felt so fucking ALIVE! Funny thing is, I'm dead now.
    – Submitted by Frances H (20 months ago)
    1. Jim: Look, you're the mother here. I didn't give birth to the monsters.
    – Submitted by Frances H (20 months ago)
    1. Feck: I mean, you kill a person, they don't let you forget it. They stick after you like ghosts. They don't believe you when you say you're sorry. They want you to pay somehow.
    – Submitted by Frances H (20 months ago)
    1. Layne: Thanks for the weed!
    – Submitted by Kevin B (2 years ago)
    1. Feck: Cat's have claws!
    – Submitted by Nichole C (2 years ago)
    1. Layne: What do you think this car runs on..God's own methane?
    – Submitted by Nichole C (2 years ago)
View all quotes (6)

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