Mean Creek is a film which I knew very little about. I had heard that it had an aura of Tim Hunter's brilliant River's Edge, a touch of Deliverance, and a nod to Lord of the Flies. I was aware that there had been a shared award for "Special Distinction" at this year's Independent Spirit Awards, to Rory Culkin, Ryan Kelly, Scott Mechlowicz, Trevor Morgan, Josh Peck and Carly Schroeder as an ensemble cast. The Spirit Awards usually get things right. Mean Creek is a little gem of a film, which quickly spans its 89 minute length. This is a film about a middle school bully and a plan concocted to deal with him, which goes horribly out of control. The cast ranged in age during production from about 12 (Carly Schroeder) to the "eldest," Scott Mechlowicz at about 22. The others all fell into a 17ish range. There are no "seasoned" performers here. And this is what makes the film even more special. Each actor is placed on an emotional roller coaster. Each shows that they are more than up to the tasks appointed them. They play their roles with perfect rhythm and pace, allowing their characters to develop and be exposed, layer by layer. Mechlowicz and Peck are brilliant as the individuals who set the events in motion, while Schroeder leaves one wondering where her talents are going to take her as she "matures" into her teens. And then there is Jacob Estes, the film's first time screen writer and director. Keep an eye on him. Highly recommended.