January 2nd, 2007
Released in the same year as Stand By Me, this is the anti-Stand By Me.
A young man named John strangles his girlfriend, and then he invites his friends to come and see the body. After that nothing happens - the police aren’t called, nobody goes on TV, nobody becomes a hero. The kids seem eerily indifferent to what has happened. Unlike the kids in Stand By Me, these kids learn no lessons as a result of their encounter with life and death.
Layne (Crispin Glover) assumes a jittery leadership role. He thinks the group’s moral imperative is to protect the living and abandon the dead. Unable to persuade anyone to help him conceal the body, he single-handedly rolls it down to the river’s edge, where it is easily found by the police.
Eventually Matt (Keanu Reeves) blows the whistle. Suspected of being the killer, his answer to every police question is “I don’t know.” Nothing is knowable in the world of this movie.
This is a teen movie from which adults are morally absent. The only adult presence is Feck (Dennis Hopper), who himself killed a girl once, and who remembers her through his companion Emmy, a blow-up sex doll.
Hopper is fantastic in this role, and this is the film where Reeves established his charismatic but inarticulate presence. Glover, and Matt’s girlfriend Clarissa (Ione Skye), are excellent as well.
This is a very tough, bleak movie, which has stood up well over time. At the time of its release it might have been possible to entertain the notion that there was something wrong with that particular generation of teenagers, but now it is obvious that the movie isn’t about teenagers at all; it’s just about people.
(Some of the kids of 1986 seem to have turned out ok and never killed anybody yet.)
Trivia fact: Ione Skye, sometimes credited as Ione Skye Leitch, is the daughter of 60’s folksinger Donovan.
Oh! I almost forgot. Here is the dead body.