****/**** Image A+ Sound A- Extras B-
starring Rory Culkin, Ryan Kelley, Scott Mechlowicz, Trevor Morgan
written and directed by Jacob Aaron Estes
by Walter Chaw Mean Creek is poised at the magic hour of the death of innocence. It deals in corruption like a maggot will, burrowing and gnawing its way through true fauna to take its sustenance in its blithe, indifferent way from the dying of the light. The film represents in its existence and function a transitional vehicle between the end of life and rebirth. In Mean Creek, a slug crawls across cold flesh in a quiet, crepuscular moment; a snail (similar/different) is punished an instant later by a clear-eyed little girl, completing her exile from Paradise in a stroke remarkably brutal not necessarily for the act, but for the freshness of the stain on the perpetrator. The picture's title refers not to malevolence, but to a nature metaphor that works as the centre-point--the protean "mean"--between two extremes. It is that ever-tilting line that marks childhood's end: mercurial, sure, yet as substantial and rude as a brick wall.