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River's Edge (1986)

R | | Crime, Drama | 8 May 1987 (USA)
A high school slacker commits a shocking act and proceeds to let his friends in on the secret. However, the friends' reaction is almost as ambiguous and perplexing as the crime itself.




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4 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Clarissa (as Ione Skye Leitch)
Tim (as Joshua Miller)
Roxana Zal ...
Josh Richman ...
Phillip Brock ...
Tammy Smith ...


A group of high school friends must come to terms with the fact that one of them, Samson, killed another, Jamie. Reactions vary, as Layne is intent on protecting Samson and smuggling him out of the state, while others think it's best to go to the police. Matt's tough little brother also finds out about the body and no one knows quite how the police will learn about the murder or who will be blamed for it. Written by Christine Sai-Halasz <sai@mit.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The most controversial film you will see this year.


Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

8 May 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

River's Edge  »

Box Office


$1,900,000 (estimated)


$4,600,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(opening sequence)| (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Keanu Reeves and Dennis Hopper both went on to star in the 1994 film "Speed" 8 years later. See more »


When Layne and Samson are driving in the car together at night, the shadow of the rear-view mirror is visible on Samson's face. In the long shots, the shadow appears to have a cross hanging from it, but on the close-ups of Samson's face, there is no cross. See more »


[first lines]
Checker: [points at legal age sign]
Samson: That's a real nice sign, how much.
Checker: I have to see ID.
Samson: I left it at home. How much?
Checker: I'm not going to sell you this unless you show me ID.
See more »


References Brian's Song (1971) See more »


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User Reviews

Teenage apathy at its extreme. (spoilers)
9 December 2004 | by (Orlando, Florida) – See all my reviews

Less Than Zero could have been the 80s movie that reveals teenage apathy in its most extreme form had they actually stuck to the damn book. But, where they hadn't, this movie presents does the job, and leaves you with the creepiest feeling when its all over in ways not done until the late nineties with Larry Clark's movies 'Kids' and 'Bully.'

Societal outcast teens are faced with a rather curious dilemma (they don't treat it much like one) when their estranged friend (Daniel Roebuck) boasts to them that he killed a teenage girl near the river's edge in their suburban town. Keanu Reeves may be the only civilized character among the bunch, the only one willing to exhibit any sort of conscience, anyway, while the others either don't do anything about the girl's death or want to help their friend hide the body.

I don't know who is more sick in this film--Crispin Glover--who becomes nearly obsessed and quite paternal in trying to protect the friend and hide the crime by smuggling him out of the state. Dennis Hopper, an on-edge drug dealer (who clings to a female blowup doll) that befriends the teens (as a dealer, of course) and suddenly becomes involved in the events. Or, Josh Miller, who plays Reeve's little brother, Tim. He appears to be the most apathetic of them all, at least until his emotional breakdown at the end. It is definitely not peppy 80s teen fare, obviously. And certainly makes the point strikingly clear about the serious detachment these kids deal with (despite a bizarre series of events) thanks to many great performances all around (even Reeves proved some acting capability).

Help yourself to a comedy to recover if it rocks you too hard.

29 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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