GREENLIGHT / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: GRAHAM DENMAN / SCREENPLAY: ERIC ENGLAND, PATRICK ROBERT YOUNG / STARRING: CHASE WILLIAMSON, CAROLINE WILLIAMS, CHRIS BROWNING, SHANE COFFEY / RELEASE DATE: TBC
Chosen to open the 2019 Shriekfest festival in Los Angeles, Greenlight is the debut feature from Graham Denman, an actor and TV director best known for the 2017 TV movie Blood Brothers. As a jobbing set-worker whose CV covers just about every job it’s possible to have in the movie business, Denman is well-qualified to present this thriller, set around the making of a movie by a very desperate director.
Chase Williamson plays Jack Archer, a wannabe filmmaker trying to catch his first break in Hollywood. Jack’s stuck; no-one will hire him to make a movie unless he’s made a movie, and he can’t afford to self-finance his way into the industry. A chance meeting with an actor leads to her low-budget film producer husband offering Jack a gig, directing his next movie. Jack’s delighted, but is the offer too good to be true?
Of course it is, but the story takes a few turns before we get to that particular twist, and it’s a real delight getting there. Williamson is good value as the director, but the film really shines when Caroline Williams and Chris Browning are on screen as the actress and producer double act. Williams, a veteran TV actor who also appeared in such treasures as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Sharknado 4, is far better than her resume suggests, and brings real depth to a conflicted role, while Browning - seen in genre fare like The 100 and the From Dusk Till Dawn TV show - delights as Moseby, who has his own reasons for wanting Archer’s movie made with a particular realistic ending…
Unusually for such a small-budget affair, everything about Greenlight shines, from the acting - including some very good ‘acting at acting’ - and especially the effects, which reflect well on Denman and the contacts he’s made in his years in the industry.
If there’s any justice in this world, Greenlight won’t be the last we hear from Graham Denman, and studios should be breaking down his door to offer him a bigger gig. Browning, too, who had a standout small part in Max Landis’ Bright, deserves a bigger stage for his talents. Regardless, Greenlight is a tight thriller with some thrilling twists and you should catch it before it blows up big.