Green Room, written & directed by Jeremy Saulnier, Starring the late Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots & Patrick Stewart; centers on an amateur punk band who are besieged by Neo-Nazi skinheads after witnessing a murder within the club’s ‘Green Room’. Joe’s back to give his two cents…
Starting things off I’ll have to acknowledge the fact that I was slightly taken out of the experience of viewing, purely by my mind constantly reminding me of Anton Yelchin’s passing. It happened as I was watching “Star Trek Beyond” and it happened here.
“Green Room” centers on a punk band – the “Ain’t Rights” – as they tour about America. They end up playing for a quaint crowd of Neo-Nazis, but end up embroiled in a conflict with them as they witness one of them murder a young girl in cold blood within the titular “Green Room”. To survive, they must use items within their immediate grasp, their wits, and a good dose of luck in order to survive till morning, and escape with their lives – and limbs – intact.
The bare bones of it is this, “Green Room” is a smart ‘one location’ thriller that really shines, with a mix of compelling performances, some incredibly sly gore moments that are executed in such a matter of fact way that it actually increases their effectiveness. To call this a thriller with elements of benign horror would perhaps be more accurate than thriller alone. In fact, the situation within the club often times becomes horrific, though this is not always from the outer forces of the Neo-Nazis, but from the actions that the main raft of characters has to undertake to survive. This isn’t a film that suffers from idiotic decision-making, in fact, the pace is so intense that character actions are largely decided on the sprint, and as such, maintain a fervent and at times, manic, sense of action.
Character-wise, the strongest performances came from Yelchin, Poots and Stewart. Each imbuing the film with a good dose of realism, and keeping the film grounded in its more ludicrous phases as the band try to survive the night. Stewart plays the head honcho of the depraved Neo-Nazis, and he plays it well, as a calm and cold grizzled old man who has this air about him that he’s ‘seen it all before’. Poots has a great skill at looking affected and detached from the violence of the immediate situation; reinforcing an uncanny horror that runs through the film. In fact, much of the horror here comes from characters detachment from events. Yelchin is predictably good here, and with his inclusion comes the natural pathos he usually instills.
Without giving too much away when it comes to the plot, I can say that “Green Room” is a tightly wound thrill ride that never outstays its welcome, and manages to maintain its tension throughout its run-time. Indeed, it isn’t a film that can be classed as ‘high concept’ but there’s an efficiency about the film, its location, its set-up that reminds me of some of the more experimental thrillers of the 70’s, things like “Duel“(1971) dir. Steven Spielberg or “Assault on Precinct 13” (1976) dir. John Carpenter, where perhaps the budget dictated a few of the narrative constraints – sometimes for the better.
There’s something classically entertaining about this film; Would I watch it again? Yes, most certainly. It’s not the freshest of scenarios of course, but it’s an example of how a simple scenario, done well, can elevate a film into something far more memorable than what it looks like on paper. Like they say in cooking, if you’re going to do simple, do it well. And they’ve simply done really well here.
Joe Crouch is a crusty mollusc with delusions of grandeur and pretensions of artistic endeavour. His tea is served between two and four. He tweets, infrequently @Grost and Instagrams his food @Sourcrouch.