Janet Maslin made the following comments about Hunter's work on the films River's Edge and Tex:
As he demonstrated in Tex, Mr. Hunter has an extraordinarily clear understanding of teen-age characters, especially those who must find their own paths without much parental supervision. But the S. E. Hinton story for that film is a great deal more innocent than this one, and a lot more easily understood. While Mr. Hunter retains his ear for adolescent dialogue (the screenplay is by Neal Jimenez) and his eye for the aimless, restless behavior of these characters, neither he nor we can easily make the necessary leap to understand their casualness about Samson's crime. That Mr. Hunter is brave enough to avoid easy moralizing and easy explanations finally makes his film harder to fathom.