Greetings valued Dan's Movie Report readers. As we near Halloween, I figured I need to review a few horror and thriller films. Greenlight, fresh off two big wins at Shriekfest comes across my desk, and I must say, this film is my thriller of the year. A low budget film about making a low budget film, Greenlight excels in the simplicity of the setup, yet flails out and forces the viewer to their edge of their seat for 83 minutes.
A bit of credit to the talented people behind the film prior to my review: Greenlight is the directorial debut of Graham Denman, written by Patrick R Young (Bastard, My Teacher, My Obsession) and produced by Rudy Scalese (Going To Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, Casa De Mi Padre, Ceremony). Financed by Talk Story Pictures and executive produced by Greg Blunden, Pamela Blunden and Phil Malasapina.
The movie stars Chase Williamson (Beyond the Gates, John Dies at the End), Shane Coffey (Pretty Little Liars, Starry Eyes), Caroline Williams (Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, Tales of Halloween) and Chris Browning (Bright, Angel Has Fallen, Only Mine, Bosch). The film also stars Craig Stark (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Django Unchained), Victor Turpin (Murder Mystery, Shades of Blue), Nicole Shipley (Buddy Hutchins, All Saints Eve), & Evanne Friedmann(Awkward).
An indie film director named jack (Chase Williamson), who has yet to direct a feature is stuck in the loop of not being able to direct a feature without experience on a full length film. I have had so many short film makers talk to me and basically say I hope that a producer sees my short and is convinced I can handle a feature. Every director has to start somewhere on their first feature. Jack has to go through the entire range of acting emotions, and Williamson very much deserved his best actor nod at Shriekfest. The important thing here is Chase never over acts a scene. If there is anger, fear, sadness, nervousness or anxiety, he remains grounded and understated, seething undeneath yet powerless to act. This is usually a huge issue in lower budget films, but in Greenlight the acting is extremely good all the way around and Chase brings the character home. It is important to note that this film also won best thriller at Shriekfest as well.
Above: Greenlight’s producer Rudy Scalese (left) and director Graham Denman (right)
What is a good thriller/horror flick without some lovely ladies? In Greenlight, the ladies are not just damsels in distress, but an integral part of the story. Veteran actress Caroline Williams plays the star of the indie film being shot, and she happens to be the wife of the producer. She emotes on screen and yes purposely overacts for the 'film' portion of Greenlight, then gets back into a natural character when she is off the set. It is important to note, much of Greenlight is about shooting an indie film so the cast has to alter their natural acting when the director, Jack yells action. Evanne Friedmann has a smaller yet integral part as the girlfriend, yet portrays an interesting side character trying to sell her book. She gets a bit involved later in the story. Finally, and I must mention, and give a special praise to actress Nicole Alexandra Shipley as Sarah. There is a particular scene, it actually does not spoil the plot, where she is sitting in a make-up chair covered in blood all over her face, shoulders, and is calm, and collected and plays it straight to the angst ridden Jack. She really has some profound words of wisdom, which I wont spoil, but has my favorite line of the film when Jack says “Are you sure this is a good time time?” and she says: “I am covered in blood, this is a great time, take a seat.” I chuckled and this added a bit of levity to the very serious film. The two talented actors absolutely nail this scene, and kudos to director Graham Denman for maximizing this performance and obviously he is in tune with the emotional gravitas of the characters. He really got all of the actors in Greenlight to bring their A game to their performances.
Every thriller needs a villain, and Chris Browning as Producer Moseby brings the danger, and threats to a visceral level. The cool thing here is with the exception of actress Caroline Williams (who plays his wife), he is much older than the rest of the characters in the film. The simple fact of this makes Greenlight more believable. Think of a teacher who preys on a student, an authority figure taking advantage of an underling, or worse. Greenlight explores fears without being preachy. The audience is in the moment, without being bogged down.
Since this is a no spoiler review, I will not mention anything about what happens, but will state that all the elements in this film are top notch. The sets, the lighting, ADR, special effects, music, plus I would like to make a mention of the make up artist who must have spent hours getting a very beautiful Nicole completely covered in blood, not random splatter, but like perfect lines of dripping all conforming to her body. Greenlight is a real low budget masterpiece of tension and angst wrapped up into a cunning, yet for the most part, subtle story. I watched the film two times prior to this review, and found it to be damn incredible, Greenlight rates a back-lot bloodbath 9.5 out of 10, yep it is that good. Final suggestions: when they start doing real PR for this film and nearer to actual wide release day, I feel Nicole needs to be covered in stage blood just like in Greenlight to do press interviews, and just be as cool as a cucumber like in the actual movie. Hey, make a splash, in thriller terms, it should be blood splatter!
Check out the film on IMDB @ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6798766/
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