YASSSSSSSSSSS! Jovanka Vuckovic’s feature debut, Riot Girls, is everything I wanted it to be.
Set in an alternate 1995, this post-apocalyptic queer horror romance takes place in the fictional town of Potter’s Bluff, in which a mysterious “rotting disease” has taken out all the adults. The teens who are left have been split into two groups divided by class: poor punks scavenging whatever they can and taking care of each other on the East Side; rich jocks ruling the West Side with a “Cobra Kai”-like cruel discipline in their former High School, wearing “Titan” letterman jackets as status symbols.
Nat (Madison Iseman), and her best friend, Scratch (Paloma Kwiatkowski), live with Nat’s brother, Jack (Alexandre Bourgeois) and spend their days scouring abandoned houses for food and entertainment. But when Jack is forced to kill a few of the West Siders during a botched delivery mission and ends up captured by the Titans, the two BFFs must launch a dangerous rescue mission to get him back.
Riot Girls is a super fun, nostalgically bloody ride — I was rooting for Scratch and Nat the entire time, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. It was such a goddamn joy watching these two women be fearless fucking bad-asses … and also, fall in love; the soundtrack was insanely good; and I loved the comic-book panel intros and AMAZING amount of splatter.
We also need to talk about how great it is that in addition to having a great female horror director, the movie was written by a woman (Katherine Collins), and produced by a woman (Lauren Grant). FEMALE GAZE FOREVER.
In fact, I just need to include this quote from Lauren in the press notes here:
“We were often asked where is Jack’s heroic moment? But the truth is, he doesn’t get one. He isn’t the hero of this story and he needs to be rescued. The question really drives home why more films with female characters need to be made – people have a hard time even thinking a man doesn’t have to be a hero.”
By the way, if you haven’t checked out Vuckovic’s work before, you absolutely need to see XX — the whole anthology is great, but her segment, The Box, is particularly haunting. And watch her creepy short, The Captured Bird, too!
(Riot Girls is in select theaters and on demand Friday, September 13)