Mean Creek

Rated 3.0 A group of teenagers lures a schoolyard bully (Josh Peck) on a river outing to teach him a humiliating lesson, but before the day is half over, his chief victim (Rory Culkin) takes pity on him and wants to call the whole thing off. Written and directed by Jacob Aaron Estes, the film is understated and eerie, and it never descends to the kind of melodrama that a simple plot synopsis might suggest. The ensemble cast is strong and well-integrated, especially Scott Mechlowicz as the ringleader (who turns out to be the biggest bully of them all) and Carly Schroeder as the only girl in the group. None of them ever seems to be consciously acting, yet there’s an awful inevitability to everything that happens; when the story takes a horrible turn, the simple realism of it only enhances the everyday horror.