Greenlight is a love letter to the independent film industry wrapped in the story of a director who lands his dream job only to watch it turn into a nightmare when his producer demands the ultimate one-shot.
The meta horror fun begins with a young director being told by an impervious industry gatekeeper, “We’re really looking to hire directors with more experience,” later adding, “Unfortunately, nobody’s going to give you a feature until you’ve made a feature.” It’s infuriatingly true.
Chase Williamson is likeable and relatable in his portrayal of Jack, a director struggling to reconcile his passions and drives with the reality of his everyday life working as a production assistant for a friend when all he really wants to do is direct a full feature length film. There’s a humorous scene in which Jack meets his successful author girlfriend’s parents for the first time and is asked the ever familiar question, “How does one make money from a short film?”
Jack’s impatient frustration is completely believable, as he pleads, “If one person would let me make a feature, just one person, I was born for this”. But of course this is a be-careful-what-you-wish-for kind of story.
Evanne Friedman is Jack’s super supportive girlfriend Shantel, his defender and private confidence booster, while Nicole Alexandra Shipley sizzles as indie starlet Sarah, who befriends Jack and recommends him to the producer of her next project, a horror flick, or “psychological thriller of you want to win awards,” called The Sleep Experiment.
Chris Browning is perfectly slimy and suspicious as the conniving movie producer Bob Moseby, who springs the news on Jack after his first day of shooting that the final kill in the movie has to be real. This obviously puts Jack in a difficult position, but to give away too much more would venture into spoiler territory. “This is your Piranha II,” Moseby tells Jack.
Genre icon Caroline Williams is perfect as Nancy, a seasoned actress who is conveniently married to the producer.
Making his feature debut here, director Graham Denman is definitely a filmmaker to watch out for, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. The script by Patrick Robert Young, based on Denman’s original story, is alive with relevant commentary about the indie film industry.
The film is infinitely fun for all the in-jokes alone, but there’s some honest tension and dread built up by the time it reaches its inevitable climax. With a brief runtime of less than 90 minutes, Greenlight wastes no time in diving into the making of the movie within the movie, with the clock always ticking toward that final kill scene.
Jack’s growing paranoia echoes many directors’ descent into their own kind of madness during shooting, and ultimately the film asks a potent “What if?” that will likely leave audiences debating among themselves long after the bloody finale.
Greenlight is currently available to stream on all VOD platforms including Amazon Prime, from The Horror Collective.
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