In a world without parents, kids actually know what they’re doing for the most part. They can take care of each other, find the basics of survival, and make life work in a land without adults. But, without parents, the typical teenage tensions of jock versus punk bubble up into violent rivalries. This is the world of Jovanka Vuckovic’s Riot Girls. Her feature-film debut is jocks vs. punks, east side vs. west side, rich vs. poor, all in the name of survival. Yet, despite these rivalries, Riot Girls is still a hilarious and colorful film that lets kids be kids while also kicking major ass.
It is an alternate version of 1995. A strange wasting disease has wiped out all of the adults. This has left kids to fend for themselves and form alliances. Here, the poor kids live on the east side of town, while the rich jocks live on the west side. On the east side, we meet Scratch (Paloma Kwiatkowski) and Nat (Madison Iseman), two punks trying to have fun in the face of a terrifying reality. Scratch sports a tall mohawk, Nat wears thick eyeliner, and both wear leather jackets covered in patches and spikes. Punk never dies, even in the face of the apocalypse. However, they must dig deep into their punk sensibilities when Nat’s brother and the group’s leader, Jack (Alexandre Bourgeois), is kidnapped by the west side jocks, also known as the Titans.
The Titans, ruled with an iron fist by Jeremy (Munro Chambers), the oldest kid in town, live in the local high school and train kids to be ruthless fighters. Meanwhile, the east side has a much more relaxed approach, treating each other as equals and living in harmony without dictator-like rule. This is a story of jocks versus nerds and outcasts taken to the extreme. The jocks, of course, rule the school, wear letter jackets like military uniforms, and collect weapons like candy. The outcasts have a more DIY approach, not unlike the punk movement. They don’t have many vehicles, they use bats are protection, and their “uniforms” are band t shirts and leather jackets emblazoned with phrases like “Eat the Rich.”