Green Room, 2015.
Directed By Jeremy Saulnier.
Starring Patrick Stewart, Imogen Poots, Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Callam Turner, Marc Weber, Macon Blair, and Joe Cole.
After witnessing a murder at a concert they accepted to play against their better judgement, a young punk band is forced into a fight for survival against a group of vicious Neo-Nazi’s.
Jeremy Saulnier’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed thriller Blue Ruin has been highly anticipated in genre circles. With his previous film, he created a bona fide masterpiece; a taut revenge thriller rife with tension, suspense and an unnerving sense of realism, despite revolving around a scenario most people will never experience in their lifetime. He didn’t reinvent the revenge film, but his approach was grounded, and so well executed it made for terrifying viewing. Green Room retains Saulnier’s trademark stamp of unrelenting, inescapable terror, but here he abandons the slow burn approach of his last feature in favour of a brutal action romp – and it’s just fantastic.
Life is difficult for unsigned punk rock bands. They spend their time on the road gigging for gas money, so they can make it to the next venue and repeat the cycle all over again. This is the case for the Aint Rights, a broke four-piece consisting of singer Tiger (Callam Turner), bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin), guitarist Sam (Alia Shawkat) and drummer Reece (Joe Cole). After accepting a gig at a backwoods venue run by white supremacists, poverty becomes the least of their worries. Firstly, they get on the racists’ wrong side by performing a cover of Dead Kennedy’s “Nazi Punks Fuck Off’’, but when they witness a murder backstage after the show, it turns into a violent showdown between punk rockers and remorseless skinheads.
As a love letter to punk rock, Green Room is as authentic as it gets. It is littered with references to the genre, and fans will undoubtedly have fun spotting them. Any movie that uses a Dead Kennedy’s track as a way to masterfully create tension and conflict is born out of a love for music that’s fast and loud, and it brings a sprinkling of charm to an otherwise brutal, heart racing experience. The trials and tribulations of struggling musicians are portrayed accurately, and the struggle of the young protagonists makes them somewhat relatable, especially if you’re of the sort who’s vacated a life of comfort and prosperity in order to chase a dream. However, no matter how much you might end up liking the characters, Saulnier has no qualms about killing them off either; the violence here comes unexpected and unforgiving, after the characters have all been established as three-dimensional, as opposed to caricatures for murder set-pieces. In the hands of another director, Green Room could have turned into a fun, violent romp; in the hands of Saulnier it’s a case of fleshed out, true-to-life human beings in the wrong place at the wrong time as events spiral out of control.
Sir Patrick Stewart has never been more enjoyable, and he’s clearly relishing the opportunity to play a role he’s never been accustomed to. His character is subdued, cold and calculated, yet ultimately merciless, menacing and unforgiving. As soon as he appears, you get the impression that shit is going to hit the fan at any moment – and it does, as bullets start to penetrated skulls and stomachs are sliced open with blatant disregard for your threshold. All of the Neo-Nazi’s are portrayed as rotten human beings, making you never question who the good and bad guys are. They’re mean, ugly and despicable, just like movie villains in movies of this ilk should be.
The only minor downside to Green Room is the anti-climactic finale. Instead of ramping it up, it tones it down significantly. However, in the context of the story and motivations of the characters, it makes sense as to why this approach was taken. But it might disappoint those looking for one last high-octane, bloody hurrah. Besides that, there isn’t a single thing about this movie that isn’t incredible. It’s another winner from one of the most exciting directors on the planet right now, and already a candidate for the best movie of 2016.
Worth it alone just to see Sir Patrick Stewart playing against type in a rare villainous role, Green Room is a nail-biting siege thriller that goes full-throttle. This is a must see film of the year, and one that’s sure to go down a treat with audiences craving carnage. Now watch as Jeremy Saulnier takes the world by storm.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★