Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
A young punk rock band find themselves trapped in a secluded venue after stumbling upon a horrific act of violence.
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★★★★½ review by nathaxnne walker (semi-hiatus) on Letterboxd
You know, it would be really quite terrible if we were to find ourselves trapped in the midst of an armed White Supremacist business operation which uses entertainment as a cover for nefarious schemes which sicken and enslave the whole of the culture whilst using non-whites as scapegoats for the damage and hostility which follows, further fuelling their cause, right? right?
★★★½ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd
you think you've lived, and then you meet Nazi-fighting punk action hero Imogen Poots. they should have sent a poet.
Saulnier continues to prove that he's an emerging master of suspense, albeit a suspense of a particularly violent variety. and the (male) rage that this movie hinges on... well, coming home from this to see video of burly men shoving a female protestor out of a Trump rally was rather telling. there's something real coursing beneath this midnight madness, and it lingers... though, given Saulnier's talent, this whole scenario seems a mite beneath him. it's a lateral step from BLUE RUIN when he's clearly ready to tackle something larger, if not in size than in emotional scope. i'll definitely be there when he does.
★★★★½ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd
"Shouldn't we be panicking?"
★★★★ review by josh lewis 🌹 on Letterboxd
"we didn't do anything"
lean microcosm on the dangers of passivity, mostly, the punk-posturing bandmates made complicit in an act of collective hatred & violence by allowing it to fester in their scene / community / country. the best decision saulnier makes here is presenting that collective hatred as restrained, organized, and calculating, even civil (i half expected them to plan a brunch at one point!), suggesting that its key to survival is to subtly, and not unintelligibly, infect the same groups & spaces we operate in. there's also a really interesting thread, for a film many have read as sadistic, about violence *not* being in our nature; saulnier choosing to highlight all kinds of different ways violence is taught to us (the constant walkthroughs & instructions of attacks, the military paintballers and, of course, the traitorous attack dog) and the way it, in action, perverts the human body. was surprised this time around by how little he actually lingers on the gruesomeness that unfolds, but instead just holds his camera long enough for you to register the mutilation of the human form (hatred, it's not a good look); whether it be a face we just learned split open, a vocal chord torn out or a guitar-playing hand hanging loosely from its wrist. the lesson: don't just turn your head away from this kind of ideological evil, that's where it thrives and, if given the opportunity, constructs its meat grinder. (also, man, that prince name-drop. no way they could've known of course but it hits hard, and the film's context for it couldn't be more perfect -- hiding a thing you truly love behind posturing.)
★★★★½ review by bree1981 on Letterboxd
Dead By Dawn 2016 Film # 1
The festival this year opened with an absolute cracker, a film that mixes two of my favourite things, horror and punk rock, to great effect. Jeremy Saulnier's follow up to Blue Ruin is violent, chaotic and claustrophobic, it also has a terrific energy running through it and surprising amount of blackly comic laughs that come just at the right times and don't distract from the horror.
The film follows a young, idealistic hardcore punk band called the Ain't Rights as they are coming to the end of a north western tour. They've played every dive bar that will have them just to try and make a buck but still have to steal gas for their clapped out old tour van just to make it to the next show. When they get to the last town on the tour only to find out that the gig has been cancelled and they won't be getting paid, the promoter tries to make it up to them by offering them a gig in another town that will pay well. The only problem is the gig is in backwoods club in the middle of nowhere that's used as a hub for a violent group of heroin dealing neo-nazi's, what could possibly go wrong?
This is a tension filled survival horror movie that's full of heart, it's brilliantly scripted and and features a cast who all deliver terrific performances. The likes of Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole and Callum Turner are all great as the easy to root for young punks and it's really soul destroying when you realise they all won't make it to the end but for me the standout was Patrick Stewart who plays the owner of the club, a calm but intimidating presence and a truly evil human being who seems to have complete control on those around him. It was also good to see Saulnier's Blue Ruin star Macon Blair appear in another fairly meaty role as the shaven headed manager of the club.
Overall, I've been waiting to see this film for a while now and in no way was I disappointed, it's suspenseful and the sense of dread during the second half of the movie is unbearable at times. There's also plenty of nasty, brutal effects on show that had me diverting my eyes on a few occasions. Another outstanding genre effort from Saulnier and this comes highly recommended.
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