Juvenile Delinquents (2020)

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A group of teens take the trauma from an incident to alter their lives in this indie drama from writer-director Neil Goss.

A group of boys have been released from juvenile detention for various infractions. When the boys meet local girls Sarah and Lin, they hang out and when the girls decide to throw rocks at someone’s house, the boys join them. Danny, Chris, brothers Nick and Marko; and Ryker join the girls. However, when Sarah hears someone at the door, she finds herself kidnapped by Frank, a pedophile who learns of the others being there with her. When the group confronts Frank, the nerdy Chris unexpectedly stabs Frank from behind with Ryker delivering a near fatal blow. While the group argues over what to do next, Sarah unleashes the killing blow to Frank.

When Frank’s wife learns of the situation and discovers Frank’s intentions, she decides not only to not press charges, but takes the rap herself to protect the group. Worried that this can happen to anyone their ages, the group decides to form a vigilante-like group against any pedophiles in the city. They also learn of a Chinese man whose teen daughter was a victim of an attack and was ultimately murdered. They decide to track the one responsible and bring justice. However, the group slowly begins to fracture due to a power coup, especially between leader Danny and the unhinged Nick, who begins to take things a bit too far. Can the group stay together before anything even more dangerous can happen?

Australian filmmaker Neil Goss crafted quite an interesting tale that meshed elements of films like Larry Clark’s Kids and the likes of vigilante films like Death Wish but done in a more subtle light and not a full-on bloody action film. Instead, there is a message with this film in that kids who have done through their troubles can in fact learn to grow up and learn from their actions. That is the case with this film, and it is the cast of young actors who help drive the film with their eclectic performances.

The cast of young actors come across from not only the United States, but in the case of the character of Lin, Silvia Dionicio comes from the Dominican Republic. And this is a cast who has the potential to go far due to their characters’ various personalities. Phil Blevins’ Danny, the leader of the group, attempts to hold his group together and treat them like the family he doesn’t have at home thanks in part to his jerk of a father. Xavier Michael is great as the nerdy Chris, whose action helps sets off the catalyst of events in the film when he is faced with a dilemma. Cha-tah Ellem is the hot-headed and sometimes unhinged Nick, who believes in taking extreme methods to act despite Danny’s reservations.

Newcomers Moses Meads and Kaleal Cerafici make excellent debuts as the somewhat co-leader of the team, the more experienced Ryker, who just wants to start his life anew, and Nick’s brother Marko respectively. Marko is the one who has to constantly remind Nick how to do things and in one pivotal scene, it reaches a boiling point between the two. As for the girls, Lin is the more quiet one of the group who sporadically does things and supports bestie Sarah, played by Corynn Treadwell. Sarah, who nearly becomes the target of pedophile Frank and is revealed to be a past victim of such an evil type, thrives on getting even, but not in a I Spit of Your Grave, but more serving justice and doing the right thing.

In the aforementioned pivotal scene, it does tease a possible sense of predictability and it does leave one guessing what can happen next. It is when Nick takes things a bit too far, causing a power struggle between him and Danny. Those will want to guess what can and possibly will happen next, but does it? You will have to see the film for yourself to find out.

In the end, Juvenile Delinquents is a riveting look at what happens when teens are forced to grow up after a life-altering decision is made. This is one young cast who have the potential to make it big.

WFG RATING: B+

A Danny Boy LIAC production. Director: Neil Goss. Producer: Neil Goss. Writer: Neil Goss. Cinematography: Dominick Sivilli. Editing: James Sterling.

Cast: Phil Blevins, Xavier Michael, Corynn Treadwell, Cha-tam Ellem, Moses Meads, Silvia Dionicio, Kaleal Cerafici, Jay Amari, Marie Smalley, John Living.

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