Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
In an alternate universe, Captain Jean-Luc Picard is transformed into a ruthless neo-Nazi who operates a criminal empire in the backwoods of Oregon. The problem is this is no episode of Star Trek: TNG; it is director Saulnier’s punks-vs-skins follow-up to his acclaimed indie thriller Blue Ruin (NZIFF13). Much like a nastier version of John Carpenter’s seminal Assault on Precinct 13, this is a classic wrong place, wrong time set-piece that takes well-worn tropes, amps them up to 11 and then stomps on their faces.
An earnestly broke but resourceful four-person Arlington punk band, The Ain’t Rights, reluctantly accept a one-off gig after a long and fiscally sour tour. After polarising the jaded crowd by opening with Dead Kennedys anthem ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’, the band members eventually find themselves heading back to the titular green room to collect their hard-earned $300. Unfortunately, they walk in on something they shouldn’t be seeing, which ignites into a full-blown stand-off between the terrified punks and the disordered neo-Nazis.
Entering the claustrophobic labyrinth is the calming presence of Shakespearian-trained Patrick Stewart, who makes a real meal of playing against type. The tension escalates as both sides slowly realise that the only way to end the impasse is for violence. Even with notable performances from all the cast, this is Saulnier’s set and he loads up and delivers the cinematic equivalent of a great punk song: numerous short sharp jabs to the solar plexus that leave you wobbly and winded. — AT