Stars: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Rating: R18+ (High impact violence)
Released: 12 May 2016 (Australia)
I went into this movie with high expectations. Tense, violent and beautiful got thrown around to describe this juggernaut of a film so I was immediately interested. I was not disappointed as the next 95 minutes were a brutal mix of red (blood), green (the film’s colour grading) and white (supremacy) with a splattering of hardcore punk and metal.
The film sees us following an amateur punk band, Ain’t Rights, as they hit the road in the Pacific Northwest of the US only to struggle for cash after cancellations of gigs. Resorting to siphoning cars for petrol and other necessities they become desperate. After the cancellation of their latest performance, organised by a local radio host, they are hooked up with the host’s cousin and his bar in the serene, picturesque backwoods of Oregon for a seemingly well-paying gig. Ignoring the radio host’s advice that the bar is run by neo-Nazi skinheads, their opening track is none other than Dead Kennedys favourite “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”. What initially started as hostility and violence from the crowd soon subsided to that of moshing and acceptance as the band started playing their original material.
When their gig finishes they promptly receive their payment and get ready to leave. When guitarist Pat (played by the recently deceased up and coming actor Anton Yelchin) goes to retrieve one his band mate’s phones from the green room he walks in to what has just been a stabbing death of another bands female member. This is where the film really kicks into overdrive and where I will leave you to watch for yourself.
Yelchin puts in one hell of a performance as the mild-mannered protagonist and leaves you feeling upset that his tragic death (he was involved in accident where his Jeep Cherokee, parked at the top of his steep driveway, pinned him against a pillar and fence after rolling backwards) had cut his life short at 27 in what was sure to be a long and successful career ahead of him.
Each actor in this film plays their role magnificently, including the versatile Patrick Stewart as the film’s “Führer”, and the cinematography is beautiful. Director Jeremy Saulnier is off to a great start to his career after the indie success of his other colour-themed Blue Ruin (2013) and will be one to watch out for with his next release.