This critically acclaimed coming-of-age story begins as a meticulous study of adolescence, before morphing into a terrifying and brutally effective thriller – a change so dramatic that many viewers will feel as if they’ve been sucker punched.
Zach and Josh are best friends growing up in mid-90s upstate New York. They spend their hours hanging out, arguing about superheroes, watching scrambled cable porn, playing 8-bit games and riding their bikes around. Ultimately, they’re just trying to fit in.
The two friends become a foursome when they are joined by noxious frenemy Daryl and little Charlie to test out a samurai sword. But when they accidently slice things they shouldn’t, the film swiftly descends into a tailspin of paranoia and guilt, like a creepy fusion of River’s Edge, Stand by Me and 80s slasher movies.
Director Kevin Phillips, in his feature debut, develops a deep sense of foreboding early on with a surreal sequence of an animal dying in a classroom. It’s a visceral image that infects the characters’ headlong rush into the confusion of teenage life, as well as the murky boundaries they must navigate between adolescence and adulthood, courage and fear, and good and evil. — AT