In a small Californian town, a former troublemaker is coerced by a sociopathic teenage girl and his classmates into disposing a body after a "prank" goes awry; with two detectives believing he's a murderer, he must stay a step ahead of everyone, and somehow stay alive.
Synopsis:Sullivan Stokes, wearing a graduation robe, races across the massive campus of Monroe Academy, a private school in a beachside town that serves as an enclave for some of America's wealthiest families (it's a combination of the Hamptons and Orange County). He’s trying to prevent a shooting. Hysterical from the events of the past several days, he appears to be raving like a madman. An LAPD homicide detective named Deanna Carter sees him. Believing he's a murderer, she tries to take him down. She fails--and someone, somewhere gets shot.
We flashback several days, to the beginning of all this....
A fleeing teenage girl, Samantha, is rundown by a $200,000 BMW on a deserted stretch of the PCH. Two teens, Eddie and Bryan, dispassionately drive away.
Samantha’s murder makes the news. This raises the ire of Marie, one of the few girls in Monroe Academy. She's the leader of a "club" of about two dozens young men. (Including Eddie the coke-snorter, Bryan, Maximilian, Leslie the goon, Terrance and Eddie's friend/enemy Louis) The daughter of a Russian model and a corrupt French industrialist, her hold over them is bizarre and cult-like. She is sweet but evil, sexy but non-sexual--she is full of contradictions. This group meets in her home and plan all kinds of mischief--they're a mob of violent anarchists. Marie told Bryan and Eddie to go down south, pick a girl at random and assault her. Needing to destroy the body, Marie promises that she'll take care of that.
Marie meets with Monroe’s conservative headmaster, Wallace, and asks him to allow her to look at the students' records. In exchange, she'll make sure Monroe stays predominantly male. Wallace doesn't know why she wants to look at those records, but he knows she can help him.
In L.A., seasoned homicide detective Carter is assigned a green partner, psychologist Dr. Wilkes. They know the killer goes to Monroe, and graduation's on Wednesday. People as rich as those kids live by strict social guidelines--they will graduate on stage if only to please their parents. After that, the killer will probably flee the country.
Stokes, a former troublemaker, is chosen by Marie to get rid of Samantha’s body. Stokes girlfriend Colleen, who he loves passionately, will soon be leaving him for the University of Chicago. Despite being brilliant, Stokes has been rejected from every private university because of his criminal record. Stokes thinks Eli, a nebbish (recently orphaned) young man, is his best friend. He's summoned to Marie's house.
The detectives meet with Wallace, and after some coercion, he opens the school records to them. Wilkes pours through the records, trying to ferret out the most anti-social students. Carter realizes that the “pranks” perpetuated by the Group are being buried by the school’s newspaper editor--whose name is Maximilian.
Stokes meets the Group. He sizes them up. Stokes realizes that she has a pull over these guys--especially Eli. If Stokes helps them get rid of Samantha's body, she can use her father’s influence to guarantee him admission to the University of Chicago. He storms off.
The next day, Carter has a list of possible suspects. Top of the list: Stokes and Maximilian. Wilkes thinks Stokes; Carter says Maximilian. They visit Maximilian, a former heroin user who is trying to turn himself around. Max has an alibi but suffers a Freudian slip when he reveals that a conspiracy is involved.
The next few days Stokes puts into effect a series of elaborate schemes to attempt to divide the Group, leading to violent ramifications. Meanwhile the detectives are stonewalled by just about everyone. Then Marie gives Stokes an ultimatum: Destroy the body or she’ll have Colleen killed.
Eli and Stokes talk in private--away from the town. Eli thinks Marie is his best friend. She was there for him after his parents' car crash, and she made him no longer fear death--she made him a man, so he feels especially loyal to her. Stokes says it doesn't really matter because he's not going to let her get away with this.
Under the cover of night, Stokes breaks into the morgue and steals the body. He disposes of it in a furnace. At the same time, Bryan visits the detectives because he knows the Group is quickly falling apart and he wants an alibi.
Stokes sleeps late on graduation day and hurriedly changes into his suit and robe before checking his messages. Eli left a message the previous night telling Stokes he won't have to worry about Marie anymore. Stokes rushes to school, which brings us back to the beginning of the script.
With Carter and Stokes fighting for her gun, Eli kills Marie onstage before surrendering to Wilkes.
Stokes helps Carter identify the members of the Group, as the press converge on the town. The cops and an ADA interrogate the members of the group. Like a cult leader Marie accepted them when they were at their emotional weakest. She gave them something money--and sex--couldn't give them: love. Eli snapped--no one ever thought that, after his parents' deaths, his pillar of being was built on an unstable foundation. Eli and Marie slept together for the first time that morning. He had honestly thought that she was a flawless creature of purity and love, but it was her goal to corrupt him. At that moment, he had the epiphany that she was evil and should be purged from this world.
Eli calls Stokes into a meeting, and tells his friend how Stokes was able to dissolve the Group by exploiting the weaknesses of its members. (He's now a hero, having brought down the "PCH Killers.") Marie thought she was using Stokes, but he was using her. Then Eli warns Stokes that Marie has many connections--he didn't get all of them--and Marie was very well-liked by all those who thought they knew her. And Stokes rushes out the room.
The next day, Eli hangs himself in his cell.
Stokes and Colleen rush out of town. Unsure of where they're going, but going there together.