A delightfully diabolical film, it ends up being one unique roller-coaster ride.
This is a very violent yet emotionally powerful film. While it will seem like one of life’s great cinematic contradictions, I must unashamedly recommend this film despite the fact that both good guys and bad guys are shot, hacked to pieces and chewed to death by guard dogs.
Yes, I know that many of you are immediately saying that you will not get near this movie. While I understand that reaction, the film has a magical quality to it as you watch young people stand at death’s door.
The only thing that you really need to know about the plot is that a small punk rock bank agrees to do a small gig in a remote rural area of Oregon to make enough money to get back home. Most of the paying crowd looks like neo-Nazi vigilantes, and our band is happy to leave after collecting their dough. However, when one member returns to their small room to retrieve a phone, a dead woman is found lying on the floor with a knife stuck in the side of her head. All hell breaks loose, and our band is forcibly confined in the room as they try to figure out their destiny.
The strength of the film flows from some powerful performances, beginning with Patrick Stewart playing the heartless leader of our gang of sadists. He is clearly just as smart as the character he plays in the X-Men movies, though his heart of gold is replaced by one lacking an ounce of compassion.
All of the characters playing our band members are marvelous, so let me just point out the performances of Anton Yelchin and Alia Shawkat. Yelchin is memorable as a musician who refuses to die despite nearly losing his arm in a machete attack, and most of you will recall his performances as Chekov in the recent Star Trek films as well as the young romantic lover in Like Crazy (2011).
Ms. Shawkat joins Imogene Poots as two women who will not go peacefully into the dark night. Ms. Poots was a friend of the dead girl who becomes a comrade of the band, and Ms. Shawkat’s quietly effective performance is a reminder of her talent previously displayed in Cedar Rapids (2011), Ruby Sparks (2012) and The To Do List (2013).
Watching this intriguing film inevitably will make you feel like you are one of the band members. As Yelchin and Poots are left injured but determined to go down fighting, Writer/Director Jeremy Saulnier’s film morphs into a composite of the James Bond song “Live and Let Die”. If our two remaining heroes are going to spit in the face of death, then you can imagine them singing the old Ringo Starr song “It Don’t Come Easy”.