When Sam (Culkin) continually gets picked on by the school bully, he and his protective older brother decide to teach the bully a lesson he will never forget. Together, they come up with a plan that involves inviting the bully on a special river trip for his birthday where they will make sure he is humiliated for all to see. Deciding that he no longer wants to go through with the plan, Sam tries to call it off but it's too late and he must live with the resulting consequences.
goes to high school in this grim, stripped-down fable of a prank gone bad. Friends decide to teach a lesson to a teenage bully by inviting him on a canoeing trip where they will humiliate him once and for all. The prank turns seriously sour, and the kids must deal with the consequences. Writer-director Jacob Aaron Estes takes a somber look at these lives, although his low-key approach makes the central tragedy seem melodramatic when it happens. The film isn't quite new enough to be truly revelatory, but Estes neatly avoids a River's Edge
rehash by allowing his characters more than dead-eyed anomie. The actors hit their notes with precision, especially Rory Culkin (another of the Culkin family, with Macaulay and Kieran), Ryan Kelley, and Scott Mechlowicz. This is the kind of movie that may be slightly familiar to older audiences, but could easily be a home-video cult item with younger viewers. --Robert Horton