Wednesday, October 19, 2022

#2,842. The New Kids (1985)


Sean S. Cunningham, producer of 1972’s The Last House on the Left and director of 1980’s Friday the 13th, stepped behind the camera once again for 1985’s The New Kids, a suspense / thriller that might not be as strong a gut-punch as those previous two movies, but has a few things going for it all the same.

When their parents (Jean de Bear and the great Tom Atkins) are killed in a car crash, army brats Loren (Shannon Presby) and Abby (Lori Loughlin) are taken in by their uncle Charlie (Eddie Jones), who owns a rundown amusement park in the small town of Glenby, Florida.

While the teens do manage to make a few friends in their new school, including Mark (Eric Stoltz) and Karen (Paige Price), Loren and Abby nonetheless find themselves tormented by a nasty drug dealer named Dutra (James Spader) and his gang of backwater thugs. Taught by their father to never back down from a fight, the siblings stand up to Dutra and the others, kicking off a battle of wills that will turn bloody before it is over.

Written by Stephen Gyllenhaal (father of actors Maggie and Jake), The New Kids is your typical revenge thriller, with good kids being bullied, then taking the fight to the baddies. Not exactly original, I know, and while Presby and Loughlin are likable as the tormented siblings, their performances are average at best.

Still, I give The New Kids points for its unique setting (Uncle Charlie’s amusement park, which looks more like one of those traveling carnivals that make the rounds in the summer months) as well as James Spader’s intense portrayal of the despicable Dutra, a truly loathsome character. This, combined with a nail-biting (and effectively bloody) finale, makes The New Kids worth a watch.
Rating: 7 out of 10

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