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Article by: Robert Sommerfield


I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the theater to see Jeremy Saulnier’s third entry into his “inept protagonist trilogy” (the first two unconnected “parts” being Blue Ruin, released in 2013, and Murder Party from 2007). The basic premise, however, had me intrigued: a dirt-poor punk rock band, attempting to make gas money to their next show by playing a last minute gig at a bar (frequented and owned by Neo-Nazi skinheads), accidently witnesses something they weren’t suppose to see… and then must fight and survive their way to freedom.


From the get go, I was hooked. Being a fan of punk rock music and the punk rock scene itself, I quickly found myself vested in this world, its characters and their relationships. This is a gritty and honest look at the punk rock scene — not “Hollywood stylized.” You see what these guys are going through and what they have to do to continue on with their tour, from town to town, all in the span of the first twenty minutes.


All of that changes, however, once the real grit of the film starts: On their way out of their gig, one of the characters returns to a room they weren’t suppose to go into and witness the aftermath of a brutal murder. The movie switches gears and almost becomes an entirely different film. The next hour descends into a brutal nightmarish revenge film that will satisfy most horror and suspense fans.


All of this could easily have devolved into “B” movie territory if it weren’t for the amazing cast. Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots (reunited after their underrated work on the Fright Night remake) make for strong protagonists that you find yourself quickly rooting for, while Patrick “Jean-Luc Picard” Stewart plays against type as the ice cold club owner and de facto skinhead leader. The acting is top notch; it’s easy to feel a connection to the characters and feel that these are very real parts of a world. The cast is a highlight — better than this type of film can usually muster.


Violence, blood, and cringe inducing scenes of brutality will be hard for the average filmgoer to watch and may leave some feeling queasy, but if you can look past the heavy violence and just let yourself live in this world for ninety minutes, I believe you’ll be glad you did. By the end of the film, you’ll feel like you’ve lived through the same horrific events that our protagonists encountered. On paper that might not sound like a very great experience… but in this circumstance, it is.

Robert Sommerfield
Robert is a self-professed lover of all things cinematic and nerd culture. When he’s not watching movies, television, or sleeping, he enjoys writing, video games, and wine, and sometimes all three together. He currently lives in Austin, TX and splits his time between working for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and wondering why his life isn’t more like a John Hughes film.

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