Green Room, an A24 Films production, which was released in the States in late April of ‘16 quickly rose towards to the top of my list of favorite horror and thriller films. Its director and writer, Jeremy Saulnier is someone whose career I plan to watch diligently. Green Room is Saulniers third feature length film, and is well rated on IMDB at a 7.1 and Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 91%. It is co-produced by Macon Blair, who starred in Saulniers two previous films, Blue Ruin and Murder Party. It has a run time of 1 hour and 35 minutes and wastes no time ramping up the action and dread.
Green Room stars the late Anton Yelchin (new Star Trek, Odd Thomas, Only Lovers left Alive), Imogen Poots (Fright Night remake, 28 Weeks Later) Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) Macon Blair (Blue Ruin, Murder Party) and Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: T.N.G, X-men). Yelchin and Shawkat play members of a punk band who after a disappointing gig are referred to another paying better gig, that unbeknownst to them is held at a underground Neo-Nazi stronghold in the pacific northwest. The band is simply admonished to not “talk politics” by the person who referred them. Although the band sees confederate flags and patrons in skinhead garb, they do not realize the potential danger that they are in and in fact antagonize the crowd by covering the Dead Kennedys song “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” It is at the 14 minute mark that the action really begins when one of the band members accidentally sees a crime committed and the viewer begins to see the harm that may be in store for them. This is all I want to say about the plot, because I eschew spoilers and highly recommend that you watch this film yourself. While he is given top billing, Patrick Stewart’s actual on screen time is less than 30 minutes. Fans of Star Trek who were drawn to this film because of the Trek alumni, most likely had no idea what they were about to witness.
Like his second film, Blue Ruin, Green Room is visually evocative. The use of color saturation and filters draw you in and hint at the bleakness ahead. The sound editing is impressive and the scenes set in silence, like in the mosh pit prior to the band taking the stage contribute to the building sense of dread. My only teensy complaint would be the reliance on jargon. In this case white supremacy and neo-Nazi jargon, which I suspect the average viewer may not know. This is a small complaint because by looking at the context, one can decipher what is meant. It is clear that much research was done to learn about words and phrases used by these groups. I especially love the subtle social commentary, which while used sparingly really adds to the feeling I think the director is trying to evoke. In addition, I love that the film avoids being preachy or taking a moral stand, beyond the Nazi equals bad viewpoint. I did consult the website Doesthedogdie.com to prepare myself for any on screen animal violence and while there are a few moments of dogs being injured, none are graphic or gratuitous. There are many graphic, gory moments of on screen violence, but none feel over the top or like they are thrown in just to up the ick factor. As a cinephile, it was a treat to see Patrick Stewart play such a deplorable character. It is a shame that this was one of Anton Yelchins last films, and his untimely death in a way made me root for his character Pat even more. While all the cast are superb, for me the stand out performance was from the supporting character Gabe the “fixer” played by Macon Blair. I highly recommend Green Room to fans of suspense and horror.
5 out of 5 stars.
(Written by Jill Kessler)