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‘Riot Girls’: Theatrical Review

‘Riot Girls’ Satisfies Viewers Hungry for More Badass Queer Female Roles

Due to be released on VOD in select in theaters across the states, Riot Girls, starring Madison Iseman (Jumanji: Welcome to theJungle) and Paloma Kwiatkowski (“Bates Motel”) is written by Katherine Collins and directed by the award-winning Jovanka Vuckovic. Find out what the She Explores Life Team has to say about this female-powered flick.

Riot Girls Plot

After a mysterious illness kills the adults in the town of Potter’s Bluff, the remaining kids are divided into two rival factions, the ‘East side’, made up of scrappy, punk scavengers living amongst the ruins, and the ‘West side Titans who are ruled by the brutal dictator, Jeremy (Munro Chambers, “Degrassi: The Next Generation”) and take over the former high school where the hoard the remaining resources.

When Jack (Alexandre Bourgeois, “Departure”), an Eastsider, is forced to kill twoWestsiders while on a scavenging mission, he is captured and taken back to the West side where he awaits public execution. Jack’s sister, Nat (Iseman), and her best friend, Scratch (Kwiatkowski), decide to set out on a mission to save him even if it costs their lives.

Riot Girls

Kelli Davis: ‘Riot Girls’ Review

A little bit action, a little bit sci-fi; an 80’s comic book structure and a whole lot of 90’s punk rock made Riots girl an interesting film. I appreciate the high energy, badass female leads, underlining themes, and overall visceral experience delivered.

A mysterious disease killed off all of the adults in the town of Potter’s Bluff, leaving a post-apocalyptic society governed by teens. Quickly after the demise of all the adults, the town is split into two groups: the have not Eastsiders vs. the rich Westsiders. When the leader of the East side is captured by the West side Titans, best friends Nat and Scratch make a small ragtag team and embark on a deadly, high action mission that forever changes the future of Potter’s Bluff.

What I enjoyed the most about this film was the vast array of socially relevant content that was explored in a very digestible way. It would be easy to miss some of the underlining threads that I really appreciated. The way that we got to explore and watch an emerging teen queer love story unfold was an opportunity to think about and assimilate what that process might be like. I can only imagine how a teen who is actually attempting to navigate a complicated new relationship must feel when seeing it normalized in current media. This feels like a step in the right direction to bridge some gaps that can happen only when topics are mainstreamed.

The way that the film dissects segregation due to social and economic differences was well done. The dramatic visual effects that the viewer experiences when leaving the East side and entering the West side, clearly drives home the differences between those that have and those who have not.

Riot Girls does a nice job of scratching the surface of exploring different styles of governmental structure and resources. A very real look at what socialism, dictatorship, and democracy would look like- if run by teenagers.

The plot that showcased two women running into the danger zone to save Nat’s brother Jack, had me wanting to pump my fists and go buy an “I am a proud feminist” teeshirt. I appreciate the way that this film took a look at gender roles and then destroyed them, all while a kick-ass soundtrack played in the background.

I really love the fact that this movie was directed, written and edited by women. The whole thing from the plot to character development and actual production really has a girl-power feel, and does it in a very fun, light way.

Riot Girls

Annette Benedetti: My ‘Riot Girls’ Reveiw

If you are craving flicks with strong female leads and romantic queer female storylines, then this movie is sure to suck you in. Riot Girls’ stylization and cinematography is similar to that of recent popular comic book-based hits like Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. However, free from the limitations of mainstream television, viewers can expect an uptick in violence and f-bombs, or language true to the actual 90s-ish punk scene.  

What I loved about this movie most is the way it allowed for a natural female queer coming-of-age story free from any elements that might suggest that it is designed for the male gaze. Scratch’s character defies gender norms giving a nod to the non-binary community. And Nat—and every other female character who appears on screen—is clad in anything-but sexy or sexualized gear. It was downright refreshing to experience a post-apocalyptic film where women weren’t still somehow choosing to wear stilettos and corsets as they run from and fight the opposition.

Riot Girls does a great job of addressing toxic masculinity and how shows up in our modern-day public-school system. It touched on the topic of rape and sexual assault (and the after-affects). It also (perhaps not-so-subtly) draws attention to an existing school system designed to elevate some and subjugate others in the worst of ways.

I love that this show has young women running to the rescue of an man (and entire communities). Riot Girls left me wanting more of those scenes scattered throughout the duration of the movie. At the start of the movie, Jack’s character takes center stage for a bit too long for my taste. Though it was brief, I feel the film wasted time on sharing his romance with another East side character. Those were precious moments that would have been better spent focusing on Scratch and Nat.

Overall, this is an entertaining and engaging show with themes worth taking the time to consider. I can get behind this female-powered flick and suggest you add it to your weekend binge list if it isn’t showing in a theater near you.

Shout out to my fellow Portlanders. You can catch Riot Girls at Clinton Street Theater on September 13.

Screening Dates

Coming to the following theaters and VOD on September 13:

Austin, Lake Creek 7
Cleveland, Tower City Cinemas
Columbus, Gateway Film Center
Kansas City, Armour Tapcade
Los Angeles, Los Feliz 3 Cinemas
Miami, Flagship Cinemas
New Orleans, Zeitgeist Theatre
Portland, Clinton Street Theater
San Francisco, Roxie Theater
Seattle, The Varsity Theatre

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Annette Benedetti
Annette Benedetti
Annette is a writer, editor and photographer from Portland, OR. Her work appears in a variety of publications including Bust, Red Tricycle, Motherly and Domino. When she’s away from her desk she can be found teaching women yoga at wilderness retreats, exploring new cities across the states and hiking the trails at Mt. Rainier—one of her favorite places on earth.