Green Room (2015)Sushant Dhume
Plot: A punk rock band is forced to fight for survival after witnessing a murder at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar.
Review: “You know I’m lucky at least they were gonna shoot me.” – Amber.
When getting shot is considered lucky you realize the enormity of the gruesomeness witnessed by the characters.
Punk band The Ain’t Rights are struggling hard. From sleeping in their van, siphoning gas to playing half-empty diners. Saying that they are not living a rockstar life would be an understatement. Desperation for cash makes them agree to open a show at a neo-Nazi club. While leaving, Pat witnesses a murder committed in the titular green room, they end up getting trapped in there having to fight the skinheads for survival.
The Ain’t Rights are comprised of Alia Shawkat’s Sam, Callum Turner’s Tiger, Joe Cole’s Reece, and Anton Yelchin’s Pat. No backstory is provided to any of these characters. We learn their characteristics throughout the film but the intention of the director seems to not make them click as individuals but rather as a group.
Anton Yelchin plays Pat who is an incredibly nice guy, who when scared to the hilt still manages to stay level-headed despite the dire beyond imagination circumstances around him and Yelchin is totally adept at playing the nice guy. You instantly lap up his niceness, feel his pain, and wish for him to make out of this horrible ordeal alive. It is an incredibly emotional performance providing an apt testament to his acting abilities.
Full disclosure I really like Imogen Poots so when I say that her character Amber was the standout for me, believe me, I am not being biased and you will end up agreeing with me when you watch the movie. We know nothing about her other than the fact that she is the murdered girl’s friend but she quickly assimilates herself within the band and ends up taking charge like a true horror heroine.
Patrick Stewart plays Darcy, the boss of the club and the leader of the neo-Nazi skinheads. Stewart is scarily terrific in the part. His collectedness while conducting cold-blooded acts makes him all the more menacing. But again, as no backstory is present regarding Stewart’s character, the audience is just supposed to buy him being such a calculated individual. But as almost all his minions act with the same level of calmness as him the whole scenario starts becoming hard to digest. It’s as if this type of situation arises all the time and by now, they have become extremely experienced at handling it.
Macon Blair plays Gabe, who despite being a skinhead could easily pass for a normal guy. You can see the internal conflict evident on his face regarding the whole handling of the situation even though he knows that declining Darcy’s orders is not an option. Blair pulls off all of this with extreme earnestness.
Writer and Director Jeremy Saulnier have said that he is no fan of films that “hold your hand all the way through the film” by explaining everything or clarifying elements with additional exposition and it’s more important than the characters understand than the audience on an initial watch. This is very clear through the writing and directing as we are just supposed to experience the horror through the characters and while this does work for the most part it does falter a bit when it comes to the characters of Amber and Darcy having more information than the audience which is crucial in understanding their respective character’s motivations and actions. Saulnier builds up the tension here expertly and the unpredictability regarding its eruption makes you sit up watching the whole movie with a knot in your stomach.
Also interesting was when the band opens their set with a song called “Nazi Punks F**k Off!” which obviously rile up the skinheads but the subsequent songs make the skinheads warm-up and start headbanging to the band even indulging in moshing. Dark humor is peppered sparsely throughout the movie and the sharpness of the writing makes it stand tall amidst all the horror.
I also really appreciated Saulnier not focusing on the gore too much. Even though there are copious amounts of gore present, not lingering on it makes it more impactful. This film is not torture porn.
Not for the squeamish, Green Room is a taut horror indie that warrants a watch, especially by hardcore horror fans. I would have loved to see a sequel and I believe the ending does provide a few possibilities but considering that this was not a successful box office wise adding to that the untimely death of Anton Yelchin, it’s not a surprise why a sequel was not even considered. Saulnier should if presented the opportunity consider a spinoff focusing on Poot’s character as it is rife with potential.
My Rating: 7.5/10