Movie Review: Roll Red Roll

A documentary exploring rape culture in an Ohio High School


Raven Ryan

(This movie contains sexual assault as well as vulgar language and alcohol use. Viewer discretion is advised.)

Parties are definitely a staple of a teen’s life. Seeing friends, finding things to do, hanging out without the interruption of teachers’ hushes. But when a party gets out of hand, what adult will be there to help?

Sadly, no adult came to help at a specific party in 2012 in Steubenville, Ohio. Roll Red Roll, a documentary filmed in 2018, dove into that party, which revealed the severity of rape culture within Steubenville, Ohio, and their town high school Roll Red Roll.

The story investigated in this film is about a girl who attends a pre-season football game on a 2012 night. She wasn’t really known by the students around her, and she drank tremendous amounts of alcohol until she was completely blacked out. Two boys, Trent Mays and Malik Richmond, promptly took the girl with them to two other locations before taking advantage of her. 

Although the action itself wasn’t recorded, phones recorded the aftermath, with a video of friends making a joke about how badly they took advantage of Jane Doe, comparing their actions to famous cases in media. This video was posted on social media along with a picture of Jane Doe being held by her hands and feet by two boys. 

The entire film, although an inspiration to prevent rape culture as well as prevent the slogan “boys will be boys,” angered me. The opinions and close-minded, misogynistic views of the subjects presented in this film are more than disgusting. The attitudes of the students towards something as serious as rape are explained clearly when videos of teachers being interviewed come onto the screen. Police officers had to slowly explain what was considered rape to men in their fifties. The worst part was that they were defending these extremely disgusting behaviors in football players to protect their reputation, rather than protecting Jane Doe. 

This film was extremely eye-opening with how uneducated people are when it comes to the conversation of rape. Rape is serious, and the football players of this documentary treated this punishable crime as a game. The sick minds of the adults are the same brains that influence these teenagers who never learned the word “no” or even the common sense of if a woman is not conscious, do not take that to your advantage. The fear that comes from not knowing what happened when one is asleep is terrifying, especially when you wake up the next morning and hear whispers about you being called “the dead girl” and seeing tweets about something you were involved in, yet don’t remember.

While disturbing and not comforting for viewers, I give this film a ⅘ stars. I wish there could’ve been more insight on the interviews between Malik and Trent, but I feel like since this film was about fighting against rape culture, they did the right thing to not make it all about the two boys. If you are curious about this case and how the town reacted with extremely differing views, I recommend this documentary.