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Parents' Guide to

Riot Girls

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Powerful females, punk rock energy in violent, cult-y film.

Movie NR 2019 81 minutes
Riot Girls Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

Despite a punk rock look, appealing cool-girl actors, clever insider '80s horror references, and strong propulsive energy, this scrappy indie falls short of cult classic status. The idea of a town without adults is an interesting one, and Riot Girls thankfully doesn't spend much time elaborating on why a "deadly wasting disease" claimed all the parents and teachers and left only youth in revolt -- "mysterious disease" is enough for an audience willing to suspend disbelief, even if the more cynical among them may wonder what happened to all the little brothers and sisters when the grown-ups went. No matter. Only tweens and teens are left, and we're ready to watch a no-holds-barred fight between the two rival factions. Riot Girls gives us that in spades, with multiple brutal scenes of teens destroying each other with guns and knives and wrenches.

But for a movie that has time to watch one character breathing out gouts of blood as he slowly dies, it's disappointing that it doesn't bother with world-building or humanizing its characters. We like Nat and Scratch because they're in a sympathetic position, trying to hold together something like a family despite threats from outside. But it would also be useful to learn something -- anything -- of their lives before the great wasting took place. We're asked to buy into their relationship, and the two admittedly have chemistry, but it's hard to feel for them when the focus is entirely on action, not emotion. Without the feels, Riot Girls just doesn't land solidly -- it's less of a riot and more of a riff.

Movie Details

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