I wasn’t sure what to expect from Graham Denman’s Greenlight, but the buzz surrounding its SHRIEKFEST premier was pretty hard to miss. Greenlight, Denman’s feature directorial debut, went on to win SHREIKFEST’s 2019 award for Best Thriller Feature. Having watched the film, it’s easy to understand why...
...Chase Williamson (John Dies at the End) plays Jack, a young, up and coming director looking to break into feature films. While working as an AP on a friend’s shoot, Jack meets Sarah, played by the beautiful Nicole Alexandra Shipley (Guardians of the Galaxy), who tells him of a friend that’s looking for a director. All too familiar with illusive Hollywood and its antics, Jack smiles and shrugs it off.
During a grueling and somewhat comical dinner at his girlfriend’s parent’s home, Jack receives a timely call that promises to change his life. Shantel, Jack’s loving girlfriend, is wonderfully played by Evanne Friedmann (Awkward). Supportive and kind, she’s the true gem in Jack’s life, and the fitting touch that gets us to emotionally invest in them both. If I may quote Tony Stark when he first meets Natasha Romanoff: I want one.
The next day Jack meets with low-budget producer, Moseby, who offers him the helm to his first feature film. Moseby, in a bit of perfect casting by Natalie Jarman, is convincingly played by Chris Browning (Bright, Westworld), who somehow manages to create a rich character that is both slimy and charismatic at the same time. You love to hate him.
Shane Coffey (Pretty Little Liar, Starry Eyes) is brilliant as Sam, Jack’s best friend. Shouting, “fuck James Franco,” before agreeing to be the Director of Photography for Jack’s film instead, he comes across as sincere and likable.
Once Jack agrees to direct Moseby’s new low-budget film, The Sleep Experiment, his relationship with Moseby takes a turn for the sinister, which begs the question: What would you be willing to do to further your career?
Can we just take a minute to discuss how great Chase Williamson is in this film? I’d never watched him in anything before, but holy crap, if he isn’t the slickest thing since sliced bread here. Everything about his performance is dead on. From the eager young man in the opening scene, to the fractured and drained shell by the end, everything he does here is exceptional. His character arc is the epitome of the saying, be careful what you wish for.
Denman’s pacing is tight, which keeps the film alive and engaging. Eric England (Josie) and Patrick Young’s (Lara) writing is damn near perfect, and their dialog, while not quite Aaron Sorkin level, is damn close.
There’s so much to love about Greenlight. Movie goers, who, like me, know just enough about making a film to be dangerous, will love it because of Graham’s terrifying look into the world of making movies. Filmmakers will love it because they will relate to every scene, image and word that’s shared on the screen. I personally loved it because of the smart dialog, spot-on acting, crisp shooting, and an opening scene that deserves a feature in its own right—and one that I believe EVERY SINGLE FILMMAKER will relate to. Magnificent.
Graham Denman’s Greenlight is a smart, electrifying and fiendishly diabolical film. Watch it.
By Daniel Boucher