Riot Girls

‘Riot Girls’ (2019) Review – Bringing Uncommon Heroes to Genre Cinema

In case you weren’t yet aware of who Jovanka Vuckovic is, I am happy to enlighten you. The woman has been a cornerstone in our beloved genre. She had a long successful stint as editor of the famed Rue Morgue Magazine and earned a Gemini Award for her incredible visual effects work. Jovanka has written two books (Zombies! An Illustrated History of the Undead, Horror Miscellany) while also crafting award-winning shorts (The Captured Bird, The Guest). She then went on to help create the highest-grossing film ever for celebrated distributor, Magnolia, with the female-led horror anthology, XX; all while being an unwavering beacon of support for women in film. 

Jovanka Vuckovic

Continuing in the quest to establish gender equality in ‘the industry’, producer Lauren Grant, writer Katherine Collins and now feature filmmaker, Jovanka Vuckovic treat us to Riot Girls. In the town of Potter’s Bluff circa 1995 (the real picturesque town of Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada) all adults have been eradicated due to a mysterious illness only affecting them. Left to fend for themselves, the kids and teens subsequently create two factions; two gangs. The East Siders who are made up of underprivileged punks and misfits, led by Jack (Alexandre Bourgeois) and the West Side, also known as Titans Territory, who are ruled by the tyrannical Jeremy (Munro Chambers). Chambers is so damn spot-on as an eerily calm yet cruel dictator of the West. The two sides collide when Jack is caught stealing goods from the Titans and taken prisoner. It is then left to Nat (Madison Iseman), Scratch (Paloma Kwiatkowski) and newcomer Sony (Ajay Friese) to make the dangerous trek to rescue Nat’s brother, Jack. The tale is told against an infectious punk soundtrack with comic book style framing and transitioning, complete with bold colors found both in the natural Canadian beauty and thoughtful design throughout the film. 

riot girls

Writer Katherine Collins offered a tempting template to Jovanka. A chance to help create a story of rebellion, survival, and loyalty with important themes. Classism, morality, violence against women; these are thrown our way while being peppered with what many horror fans love most; kill scenes. Riot Girls is well-paced and Vuckovic taps into a vein that bleeds with teen angst and social anarchy with characters that are not cookie cutter. It’s not often I can connect so wholeheartedly with characters, and the director and writer so obviously jived on this one. It means a lot to me, that it meant a lot to them, to consciously create such a diverse story. And to have actresses Madison Iseman and Paloma Kwiatkowski so affectionately dive into such roles was incredibly heartwarming. Riot Girls waves its Freak Flag proudly and gives audience members who may not always have a cinematic counterpart, a reason to cheer. 

Riot Girls releases on Friday, September 13 — in select theaters and on demand. See for yourself why this is one of our favorite movies of the year!

Riot Girls

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