Nate Joseph’s review published on Letterboxd:
one of those movies i’d gotten to know secondhand through cultural references, particularly the dialogue being sampled in a few different hardcore/punk bands’ songs (dystopia’s “love // hate” being the one that really comes to mind). upon actually watching it i was struck by how messy it actually was, but it’s still quite good.
definitely was written without a true sense of what it was actually trying to say (the vaguely characterized ex-radical teacher was kind of a step in the right direction but really half baked). there’s a lot of striking atmosphere in the valley locations and in the sense of place it achieves, but the pacing and editing are rough.
the performances, however, are incredible all around. they hold the entire thing together, really sell the histrionic dialogue, and make the movie much more fascinating than it actually should be given its faults, creating an actual world out of something that’s otherwise more cheaply sensational. make it well worth watching and revisiting. pointing out a few in particular - glover seems to get a lot of credit for his indescribable work, but roebuck and dennis hopper have a really incredible dynamic and some beautiful scenes together.