Green Room is writer and director Jeremy Saulnier’s third feature film after his insane debut in 2007 Murder Party and the minimal masterful revenge thriller Blue Ruin which crept out in 2013.
Green Room sees a return of the stylistic tone and opaque visuals Saulnier has made his own along with his sparse yet evocative dialogue and realistic feel bolted onto what sounds on paper to be a very high concept idea as a young punk band at a gig become confined in the green room of a neo-Nazi club after stumbling into a murder scene .
The Ain’t Rights made up of guitarist Pat (Anton Yelchin), bass player Sam (Alia Shawkat), drummer Tiger (Callum Turner) and singer Reece (Joe Cole) are down on their luck at the end of the line after a failed tour ending in Oregon after a dreadful lunchtime gig at a restaurant.
Local music journo and fan Tad (David W. Thompson) feels bad for making them come all the way to his town for nothing and after conducting an interview with the group offers them a slot playing at a remote no-name skinhead club his cousin works at.
Dubious at first and extremely weary of the white supremacists The Ain’t Rights take the job anyway being as they are desperate for money however post playing a mundane twist of fate forces them to become witness to the aftermath of a horrible homicide.
Attempting to call the police they are stopped by the clubs staff who keep them in the green room with the victim’s friend Amber (Imogen Poots) under lock and an armed guard while a resolution can be found.
The terrible situation takes more and more turns for the worse as the clubs owner Darcy (Patrick Stewart) gets involved and the band find themselves trapped with no weapons, no plan and an angry armed militia preventing them from leaving.
Throwing the audience straight in to meet the extremely likable leads Green Room brilliantly builds forcing the innocent individuals along with the viewers to face what they would do if they ended up in the same nightmarish situation.
The slow amping up of the tension and terror works wonderfully allowing an explosive third act that is much darker than might be expected. Early on Anton Yelchin’s unwilling leader Pat discusses in the radio interview how the bands particular brand of energetic punk music needs to be experienced live hence their rejection of the online world and commitment to the tour. The way he describes this perfectly parallels what is to come during the movie in the brutal and bloody cathartic chaos that ensues for all involved as well as the spectator.
Avoiding complete stereotypes either side Green Room has many nuanced characters excelling far beyond the sound bite friendly ‘Punks vs Nazi’s’ tagline many mundane marketing mongrels may have labeled it as.
Yelchin as ever is outstanding as are his co-stars especially Poots who is more than proving herself in the relatively brief time she has been acting. Stewart exudes quiet and formidable menace making Darcy all the more scary by how normal and level headed he seems. The business like way he treats bloodshed and bigotry is far more chilling than a cartoon bother boots boss would have ever been increasing the overall power of the piece.
Mixing moody cinematography in the dark and rundown club with the lush forbidding forest that surrounds them Green Room looks great crafting a doom ridden atmosphere around the characters. Thankfully the succinct script is littered with nuggets of humor to counterbalance the dark side and flesh out the characters before they have their skin bitten off by the blood thirsty attack dogs baying at the door.
By far the most commercial of Jeremy Saulnier’s films so far with its stunning simplistic set up and superb cast of upcoming indie young bloods set off against the one and only Patrick Stewart Green Room is also by far his best blending hyper authentic tension with brutal visceral violence proving him as an exciting and exceptional talent in the horror genre.