A teenage girl runs away with her younger sister, eluding their mother's abusive boyfriend, in search of their long-estranged father. Ultimately, the adolescent girl must confront her would-be abuser face-to-face.
Watching this film you get the impression that scripter and director Doug Sadler watched far to many TV-Movies-of-the-Week as a child. "Riders" somehow manages to pay homage to (or perhaps steal from) "The Burning Bed" and every other abused wife, abused child, sexual abuse, and teenage runaway movie that ever aired on the Big Three networks.
Granted, the film is well directed, wonderfully acted and professionally slick for a DV production. It's just that we get the nagging feeling that we've seen all of this before. It gets real boring real fast. Even the charm and skill of lead Bodine Alexander can't overcome the endless dangling cliches that permeate the film.
The film is about Alex, a boyish teenage girl who is "coming of age." When her mother starts dating a creep named Ned, Alex looks for any reason to make him look bad to her mother. Alex also has a little 10 year old sister, Sarah, whom she adores. When she comes home to find Ned toweling off Sarah after her bath, in a scene that is creepy in its near pedophilia, Sarah freaks out. But this scene is particularly well acted and well executed. We are just not sure if Ned is really trying to molest Sarah or be a good father figure. It's a tough call.
Don Harvey, as Ned, who looks like Robert Morse's psychotic fraternal twin, really does an excellent job of creating a character that is just real enough and just asshole enough to annoy the fuck out of us. You just want to kick this guy's smug little ass.
This fear for her sister's well-being, leads Alex to hit the road, with Sarah in tow, looking for her absentee father. For much of the film, we have a teenage coming of age flick that has nice moments between the sisters but ultimately fails with its silly plot trappings. Even later, there is a grotesquely homophobic lesbian scene where Alex meets some trippy college aged girls. I can't recall a film before that was so disgusting in its depiction of lesbianism as "evil." I wanted to retch.
"Riders" ends with a segment that find Ned emerging as indeed the bad guy Alex presumes he is. The final 20 minutes of this film are laughable in their depiction of claptrap child abuse syndrome bullshit. The entire film, which has been rather drab but at least somewhat believable to this point, falls hopelessly apart. In the final reel, "Riders" hitchhikes with overblown typicality and ridiculous pop psychology horsecrap. Let me off at the next stop.
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Lots of riders ed2k links, but they have NO date. Need the 2001 version NOT the 2002 one.