Green Room (2016): Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots Nailing It (Review)

Anton Yelchin as Pat

Written and directed by “Murder Party” and “Blue Ruin” auteur Jeremy Saulnier, Green Room has the sad distinction of being the last film released starring Anton Yelchin before his untimely death on June 19, 2016. The film follows the misfortune of a struggling punk band who stumble onto a murder while playing at a skinhead roadhouse.

Saulnier, whose debut feature length film was the brilliant low/no-budget offering “Murder Party,” has a knack for making American film that have a distinctly English feel to them.  Taking a note  from such talented Brit filmmakers like “Dog Soldiers” (Neil Marshall, who wrote and directed the werewolf picture, specialized in violent and terse thrillers like Doomsday and the gloriously scary, and all female, The Descent before moving onto mainstream television.)

Yelchin plays the meekest member of a punk band who later teams up with Poots as they fight against a group of white supremacists tasked with killing them.  Patrick Stewart plays wonderfully against type as the club owner who calmly arranges for all the witnesses of the murder to be disposed of.

Green Room, for the most part, takes place in a claustrophobic setting. The band members plus one, Poots’ character Amber, are trapped in a club (roadhouse) in the dressing room, aka green room as Darcy (Stewart) and his Aryan lackeys work out how to kill them all.

The band, which consists of three young men and a female guitarist, and Amber work together and the film is really all about survival. Everyone does a great job in their respective roles but Poots and Yelchin almost effortlessly nail their performances from word one.

Poots boasts a sort of “bowl” band cut and pigtails that makes her looks like a demented Pippy Longstocking’s wannabe while Yelchin appears to be almost emaciated. At one point early in the film Pat (Yelchin) takes Sam (Alia Shawkat) on the back of a folding bicycle and he looks so rail thin that one wonders how he pedals the thing with her balanced on the back. 

All  the band look thin and somewhat wasted, as behooves a young musical group struggling to find gigs, food and petrol. Wisely, the film spends little time on white supremacy themes and opts instead to have Darcy remind his club members to “remember, it’s a movement, not a party,” as the only reference to their leanings.

There are pit bulls, the usual “pet dressing” of these members of society, and they are used against the young band members throughout the film. Saulnier, who has already proven that he can do comedy horror on a budget, with “Murder Party” and a quirky, bloody, crime thriller (Blue Ruin) has now shown what he can do with a horror/thriller.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the entire film is Darcy’s unflappable calm as he plots the demise of so many people. He even instructs, via a seemingly throwaway remark, how to kill the people responsible for the whole “cluster-f***” in the first place.

The soldiers who willingly go after the targets are also unsettling but as they are really quite two dimensional they serve more as bogeymen cohorts rather than the real deal, like Stewart’s character.

Green Room looks top notch with its grimy sets and gritty decor. Black walls with graffiti scrawled everywhere and a dressing room that looks too disgusting to walk through add to the grungy feel of the bar where the band play.

Once again, the late Yelchin proved just how versatile an actor he really was by playing a more unconventional lead character. Saulnier even allows his lead to be somewhat horrifically injured, a move that causes the audience to wonder of the actor’s character will make it past the first reel.

The band comes across as a real group of musicians who are working hard to make it happen. Kudos to all the actors for finding the truth of characters that could have been flat two dimensional people without a perfect marriage of script and actor.

Green Room is a solid 4 star film. It entertains and keeps the audience close to the edge of their seat as the characters are hunted down through the film. The movie can be seen on Amazon.com, as part of the “Prime” stream and if you have not already done so, head on over to watch this one.

Anton Yelchin: Dead at 27 – Freak Accident Ends Talented Actor’s Life

Anton Yelchin dead at 27

Anton Yelchin died age 27 in what has been described as a freak accident by police.  His own vehicle rolled back and ended the talented actor’s life in the early hours of Sunday morning, 19 June, 2016.  Yelchin was a busy and exceptional actor who worked steadily in Hollywood.

Anton; born Anton Viktorovich Yelchin in St Petersburg, Russia, had over 65 credits under his belt and three projects in post production at the time of his death. (Star Trek Beyond, Rememory and Thoroughbred)  Yelchin had major roles in Terminator: Salvation, Fright Night and Alpha Dog.

But it was Star Trek,  where Anton played Chekov,  that threw the young actor into the limelight.  Although fans of his work could point to other films that he starred in where his performances were above and beyond.

He was quite adept at  “horror/comedy.”  Playing the title roles in Odd Thomas and Burying the Ex showed he could do more than play Kyle Reese or the rebooted Charley Brewster or the newly imagined Chekov in the Star Trek franchise.

Anton Yelchin as Chekov
Yelchin as Chekov

Anton Yelchin was convincing in whatever role he played and was comfortable in any genre. Comedy horror – Fright Night,  Science Fiction – Star Trek, Terminator: Salvation,  Drama – Alpha Dog and Romance – Like Crazy The Russian born actor also worked in television and did voice over work for video games.

Tributes to Yelchin have been pouring in via social media with reactions from Chris Evans, Tyler Shields and Fran Kranz to name but  a few. The shocking news of Anton’s death is trending on Twitter as fans and friends alike rush to share their grief.

Fran Kranz @frankranz

Anton Yelchin was a very talented actor who would have graced our screens for many years  to come. The 27 year old actor’s death was confirmed by spokesperson Jennifer Houser from the LAPD.

Chekov, Odd Thomas, Jacob, Max, Kyle Reese, Charley Brewster and all the other characters Yelchin portrayed will live on. RIP Anton Yelchin.  Gone far too soon with so much left to give. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the friends and family of this talented actor.

 

 

Burying the Ex (2014): Anton Yelchin and Joe Dante Comedy Gore

Anton Yelchin and Ashley Green, Max and Evelyn Director Joe Dante, who brought the world Gremlins back in 1985, teams up with Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Odd Thomas) to deliver a hysterically funny comedy horror with more than a little gore and a lot of genre references. Written by Alan Trezza (who wrote and directed the 2008 short film of the same name) the film is about nice guy Max (Yelchin) whose girlfriend is needy and clingy, even after death.

Max works in a “Halloween” horror shop and while unpacking a “Satan Genie” he and his girlfriend agree to be together forever. The genie glows and later when Max asks Evelyn (Ashley Greene) to meet him at the dog walking park to break up, she is hit by a bus and dies.

Olivia (Alexandra Daddario), the owner and proprietor of the “I Scream” ice cream parlor asks Max out on a weird date, they go to the cemetery and pass by Evelyn’s grave. She climbs out of her coffin to return to her boyfriend and things quickly spiral out of control.

Soon, Max has his zombie girlfriend controlling his life from beyond the grave. True love becomes difficult for him as he fights to keep seeing Olivia and tries to put Evelyn back into the ground.

This is an honest to goodness laugh out loud film. Dante has lost none of his directorial touch with the horror/comedy genre. While this film has none of the unique creepiness of Dante’s 2009 film The Hole he has shown that the return to his comic roots was a brilliant move.

Anton Yelchin may have become a household name with his portrayal of Chekov in the new Star Trek film franchise but he is no stranger to the horror genre. Odd Thomas in 2013 had Yelchin playing the title character and doing a decent job. Arguably, this film (based on a Dean R. Koontz novel of the same name) was less comedic and more of a foray into the world of fantasy/horror.

The actor does a brilliant job playing the hapless nice guy who inadvertently ends up with a zombie girlfriend. Just as impressive is Alexandra Daddario as the girl who is his real soul mate. A young lady who loves all the things he does and is a walking pop cultural reference book. Dante fills the movie with references to other horror films and even appears to tip his director’s hat to Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead at the end of the movie.

Real kudos go to Ashley Greene as Evelyn, the girlfriend from hell. Her comedic timing is brilliant and she is perfect as the “zombie in denial” still in love with her perfect boyfriend. Greene sells it, full stop.

Burying the Ex is not meant to be high art, it is a bit of fun and Dante shows his familiarity with the genre that he does so well. Dick Miller even shows up and film fans will remember Miller from Gremlins, Small Soldiers and a number of other Dante projects, including the director’s stint on the Eerie, Indiana television series (Dante directed several segments)  episode The Losers in 1991.

Fans of the genre will have a heyday picking out the different references and the various clips from horror films. This is a 4.5 out of 5 star film, not completely original enough for a full five, but funny enough to warrant the almost full complement. Great entertainment that is streaming on US Netflix at the moment. There is not too much gore, it is a comedy horror after all, just enough to keep it from being too “kiddy.” A real Dante delight.

Zoe Saldana Pranked by Simon Pegg on Star Trek

Zoe Saldana Pranked by Simon Pegg on Star Trek