Green Room

'Green Room' movie poster

Release: Friday, April 29, 2016

[Theater]

Written by: Jeremy Saulnier

Directed by: Jeremy Saulnier

Jeremy Saulnier continues to polish the edges on his unique brand of filmmaking in 2016. Green Room is electrifying. It’s intense. It’s bloody. It’s raw. It’s wrong. But man, is it watchable. And I’m liking the theme here: last time it was Blue Ruin . . . now it’s Green Room. What’s next, Red Rum? No, but seriously. So far all of his movies have involved or in some way been built around murders, and murders that go horribly awry.

His sophomore effort, the mysterious crime drama Blue Ruin, afforded the young up-and-comer a much larger and more intrigued audience following his 2007 crash landing with Murder Party. So it wasn’t really any secret to those whose allegiances had already been established that his next offering would be bloody as well. All the same, his third feature is still likely to catch everyone off-guard as it offers a wicked(ly original) premise, and a performance from Patrick Stewart so cold Saulnier’s begging to be trashed by every filmgoer expecting Professor X’s world-weary wisdom to offer our mortally endangered musicians some hope.

Then again, Saulnier’s just as likely to be venerated by anyone looking for the next great genre film, as Green Room seduces with one gut-wrenching twist after another, offering a thrill ride that’s difficult not to watch, even despite the cruelty and the gore. Down-on-their-luck punk band The Ain’t Rights are on the last leg of a failing tour that very well could spell the end of the band after the latest stint at a decrepit restaurant half-heartedly thanks them with a measly sum of chump change. It’s gotten to the point where they’re having to siphon gas from random cars they find just so they can make it from venue to venue, and they’ve been subsisting on a steady diet of rice and beans. Rice and beans and fucking attitude, man.

In a small Portland suburb, a mohawk-wearing rocker named Tad (David W. Thompson) hooks them up with a gig at a third-rate club in the backwoods of god-knows-where Oregon, a snake pit filled with neo-Nazis, leather-clad hooligans and possible future victims of dominatrixes, all expecting the next sonic boom of bad music to throw them right back into their nightly frenzy. Even though they tout themselves as an angry clash of misfits, this lion’s den ain’t right for The Ain’t Rights, but they do need the money. So they play a set and while they almost get booed off the stage they make it through without actually being mobbed, so that’s a good thing.

An already uncomfortable situation turns nightmarish when they — Pat (Anton Yelchin), Reece (Joe Cole), Tiger (Callum Turner) and Sam (Alia Shawkat) — are preparing to leave only to stumble upon the aftermath of a murder backstage. What ensues is a series of increasingly dire cover-ups, all orchestrated by the ruthless skinhead Darcy (Stewart), the proprietor of this hateful little establishment. He has one goal: to pin the death of a random groupie named Emily on the visiting band so he and his fellow Nazi sympathizers can carry on as they were. So he traps them in the back with Big Justin (Eric Edelstein) and Amber (Imogen Poots), a friend of Emily. If they have any hope of surviving, it lies in the band’s ability to outwit the horde of haters.

Green Room, complete with an inspired cast, a script provocatively grounded in reality, and a deeply cerebral soundtrack that evokes mood á la Nicolas Winding-Refn’s Drive, functions best as a slash-’em-up horror. Many of the deaths are played up for shock value — getting eaten alive by dogs works wonders in that regard. But this is every bit as compelling as a psychological mystery thriller given the perpetual shift in perspective as cameras rove in and out of the darkened facility, keeping track of both parties as one struggles to keep things under wraps and the other desperate to survive. It’s kinda obvious who we should be rooting for, but there’s also something darkly compelling about Darcy’s intelligence.

Saulnier keeps the suspense just this side of bearable as he powers toward a brutal final confrontation that somehow manages to match the intensity of everything that has preceded it. Implementing sparse dialogue, haunting and often claustrophobic shots of the surrounding wilderness, and, absent the trumpets of another bombastic score designed to signal that the movie is almost over, the standoff might be the very reason to see Green Room. But given everything that Patrick Stewart brings to the table, and the story’s grounded, simplistic composition, there are many elements supporting the theory that it won’t be long before Saulnier becomes a household name. He is a gifted filmmaker and the power that Green Room projects is proof of that.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 7.27.52 PM

Recommendation: Bold, bloody, brutal. Jeremy Saulnier steps up the violence in this delightfully trashy backwoods horror-thriller hybrid that makes his previous effort look like a pleasant bedtime story. Fans of Patrick Stewart, be prepared for a wild ride. While others, fans of Saulnier perhaps, buckle in for the ride you’re expecting. He’s done it again.

Rated: R

Running Time: 94 mins.

Quoted: “I can’t die here with you.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com

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29 thoughts on “Green Room

    • Dude I think Green Room has your name written all over it. It’s a boldly realized story about survival filtered through a highly convincing story of a punk band doing what they have to in order to weather a very bad, financially devastating tour.

  1. Watched this the other day and damn is it a great piece of work. Saulnier is fast turning into one of today’s best genre filmmakers. Looking forward to getting stuck into a review on this one!

    • I look forward to your reaction to this. Saulnier for me has come out of nowhere and made an impression fast. I wasn’t originally going to give this a perfect score but the events here, esp towards the end, really started replaying in my head vividly and I just couldn’t say no to a full pie. This thing was that good.

  2. I have been really excited for this film for quite some time. Really liked Blue Ruin and I guess I was sold on hearing Patrick Stewart is playing a Neo Nazi. Glad to see the perfect score. Looking forward to seeing it

    • Patrick Stewart is, in my book, the film’s major selling point. That’s been noted by several people. And I think they’re right on th money. His performance really stands out but everyone here is on board with Saulnier as they work towards delivering a seriously brutal slice of genre filmmaking. I don’t think I can overstate how much I was impressed by this.

  3. Blue Ruin was one of the the decade’s greatest sleepers so expectations were really high for Green Room. This is an entertaining watch for about 2/3rds of its ruin time, but then we’re left with the straightforward murder of a group of people we still don’t really know. It had so much potential, but I left disappointed.

    • I agree that we don’t really know this band that well. I guess you have to just simply accept that they’re the ones we should empathize with because such a terrible situation befalls them. Essentially everyone else in this movie is a pretty bad person, so it kind of leaves us rooting for this band of misfits to get out with their lives. I loved this thing. I personally enjoyed it more than BR, but either way. Let’s all agree that Saulnier is an exciting up-and-comer! 🙂

    • It’s in my view that Green Room is actually a step up from Blue Ruin. I want to go back and watch BR now to confirm it but there’s something just so utterly metal about this movie. It’s great

        • I mean, I think we all have different experiences but in my estimation it was. I’ll have to watch BR again. that was def a great one too. I gave it a 7 and this an 8, so just based on that. . . .

  4. Oh! Shit. It’s the Blue Ruin guy?? Damn – I HATED that movie! But totally wanted to see this because I’m obsessed with Patrick Stewart. Damn! What do I do?!? ; ) Nice review, Tom! Come watch this with me as it sounds like my eyes will be closed the majority of the time so I won’t know what’s happening…

  5. Awesome! What a great review, and I’m glad it lived up to all the promising hype. My theater, unfortunately, didn’t get this one so I’ll be waiting for a VOD release 😦

    PS. Thanks for the linkage!!

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