I Don’t Feel at Home in the World Anymore captures that peculiar modern feeling that the world is a frustrating and mean place – but that ordinary folks can stand up and push back, though sometimes with hilarious and awkward results. Writer-director Macon Blair’s film contains bleak humor, affecting drama, and a bumbling crime story. The sad-sack characters and story compares well with Jeremy Saulnier’s film Blue Ruin, where Blair played the lead. Blair’s aesthetic is very much in line with his friend’s, but let’s be clear: Blair’s work in this film is not counterfeit Saulnier. Though they share sensibilities, Blair’s film is far more sarcastic and funny, which makes the harsher elements of the film pop quite effectively.
Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room takes advantage of two primal human fears to fill its audience with a profound sense of unease: the fear of confinement, and the fear of being outnumbered in a fight. The film establishes an omnipresent feeling of dread by casting the members of a punk rock band into the deep end of a hinterland Neo-Nazi club. Though the set itself is fine, one of the members witnesses something he shouldn’t, and the film becomes a hyper-realistic slasher thriller set in this single, remote location. Though the story essentially recreates the “Ten Little Indians” trope, there is a subtlety and direction to the plot and a dimensionality to the characters that raises Green Room above the common slasher.
The revenge genre has experienced a small renaissance of late with films like Taken and John Wick portraying purposeful and expert killers running roughshod through those who have wronged them in some way. The audience is generally encouraged to recognize the protagonist’s ability, and celebrate his or her violence. The low-budget film Blue Ruin, from director Jeremy Saulnier, turns this dynamic on its head by providing us with an everyman thrust into a revenge situation. The resulting story arc follows familiar beats, but the unique perspective infuses this stark film with a beauty and realism that is rarely approached in this exploitative genre.