If you could snap your fingers and make your school bully disappear, would you? That is the question posed here in this chilling tale of revenge called “Mean Creek”. Sam is beaten by the school bully George one time too many, and now Sam’s brother and his friends are intent on seeking revenge on George by luring him out to the river and playing a nasty prank on him, but things go horribly wrong. Much like “Deliverance” being a tale of paranoia and the mind becoming the worst enemy after a tragedy, “Mean Creek” is a younger more contemporary tale of an incident spawning a tragedy which has dire consequences.
Those consequences which could have a grave punishment; it’s the tale of a group of people within the scope of the tragedy forced to make a decision, not a good one mind you, but still a decision that they have to live with as long as each of them live. “Mean Creek” is perhaps one of the best variations on the cruelty of children good and bad and what their choices can mean in the future, and brings about the question: where are the parents? “Mean Creek” is a very gripping and very grim piece of filmmaking exploring the brash cruelty of the young. Each kid is cruel, each kid drinks, each kid has an undeniable fascination with sex, and every kid curses like a sailor.
Each character in the movie is three-dimensional and each of them helps us watch these events unfold with their own issues which in some way or another help contribute in the final acts played against the character George. It’s honest, and it tells that sometimes revenge isn’t always the best decision. The character Marty is not only seeking vengeance on George for being a bully, but mostly acting out his aggressions towards his own older brother for being abusive. They’re all in some way or another seeking vengeance on their own troubled lives through George, not simply for being a bully, but for being alive; he’s their excuse for acting out against the troubles in their lives. What I appreciated was what director Estes tried to get across to the audience.
We learn a lot about the character George and he lets us make up our own minds about whether he’s a really bad person who deserves what he may get, or just a distraught sad person who just needs to be given a chance. What we learn about George soon becomes the deciding factor on whether think that these kids’ plan for revenge may not be such a good idea. Ultimately, what turns out as a tale of revenge also becomes a very effective tale of morals, conscience, and peer pressure. In the end “Mean Creek” serves as the ultimate chilling word of warning to anyone: for every action, there’s inevitably a consequence, and many times you can pay with those consequences.