I grew up in the local music scene. Some of the best guys I knew throughout the duration of the most difficult years of my life, I owe to the music scene. I met my wife at a local show while on tour. I met my best friend while also traveling for music. As much as we cover movies and comic books, music has always engrained itself into my foundation as an individual. While community can be one of the most rewarding portions of local scenes, it can also be one of the harshest realities. Imagine that scene from Mean Girls where Janice is explaining the cafeteria and clicks to Cady for the first time. That’s how some music scenes are. Community exists only in exclusivity. That mentality is toxic.
Which ultimately serves as the backdrop to the film, Straight Edge Kegger. Writer-director, Jason Zink, returns to the medium of full-length film making for the first time in a decade following up his documentary, When I Die. Zink expands his vision of the hardcore world from his 2016 short film of the same name. Kegger tells the story of Brad (Cory Kays), a straight edge punk kid who grows bored. When Brad befriends a fellow punk, who doesn’t share his views, eventually breaking his sobriety. These actions cause a war to break out between former and new friends. If I had to put into the simplest terms what this movie is – its’ Green Room meets Don’t Breathe.
From someone who grew up in that hardcore environment, Kegger is relentlessly honest in its’ delivery and depiction. Music scenes can become polluted with politics, eventually becoming the very thing which they created to get away from. There is even a point within the movie which Kays actually discusses the original vision of a straight edge scene and how it ultimately fell into that formula. Zink not only manages to capture the culture increasingly well but also manages to educate along the way. For viewers within the audience, who might not understand the political nature of the music scene – Kegger does an extraordinary job at its education. It breathes consistently that cycle of honesty.
While Kays delivers a powerful performance as the film’s protagonist. He’s matched almost note for note with the aggressive villain, James (Julio Montenegro Jr.). Montenegro manages to showcase an array of emotions. Sequences that allow for him to demonstrate his charm, while in other scenes he is allotted the area to demonstrate his brutality. His ruthless delivery is one of the film’s most memorable qualities. On the flip side, Kays equally matches Montenegro, crafting one of the best arcs within the film. Kays also feels like the most relatable character within the film. His character journey is learning identity but also to be fearless. To let go of what people think about you. With Kays’ delivery, and Zink’s script, it becomes one of the defining factors of the film – it is utterly beautiful and poetic in every sense.
While, Montenegro and Kays delivers incredible performances, they are not always matched with the best from co-stars. A few of the other cast members break the natural flow of the film with their delivery. Sean Jones mightily falls into that category. Jones plays Sean – the fellow punk who does drink and introduces Kays to bring “edge” (or sobriety). While most of his scenes take place with Kays, it brings the film down in a major way. Jones is a pivotal point within Kays’ story. Majority of their scenes, honestly just feel unnatural.
Overall, Straight Edge Kegger, is a loud, proud and fantastic marriage of horror, honesty and hardcore music. Written-director, Jason Zink, is absolutely relentless in his depiction of the underground music scene. A dual slow burn character study of Cory Kays and Julio Montenegro Jr. that fades into horror is pure cinematic genius and joy. Kays crafts the vulnerable, emotional backbone of the movie. While Montenegro is the charm and absolute terror as the film’s antagonist. Kegger is rich with gorgeous cinematography and music. The film backslides a bit with some stiff performances and unnatural interactions. Straight Edge Kegger is Green Room meets Don’t Breathe. Open up the pit for this one – it’s not to be missed.
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Credits: Straight Edge Kegger is property of Weird on Top Pictures. We do not own nor claim any rights. This is an official selection of Genre Blast Film Festival 2019.