Review: Green Room

After witnessing a murder, a punk rock band is forced into a vicious fight for survival against a group of maniacal skinheads.

After the successful indie thriller Blue Ruin absolutely slayed it, expectations were high for Jeremy Sauliner’s follow up, Green Room. For months I, along with many of my friends and film buddies, had worked myself into a frenzy, convinced that this would be just as phenomenal as Blue Ruin. I wasn’t wrong to have put my faith in Jeremy.
After a last minute gig at a notorious Nazi gathering goes horribly wrong, punk band The Ain’t Rights find themselves trapped backstage, with little hope of escape. Displaying both bravery and cowardice in equal measure, the band must try to outsmart the skinheads waiting on the other side of the door, headed by their calculating leader, Darcy (the always class Patrick Stewart).
In the same way as Blue Ruin (seriously, if you haven’t seen this film I don’t think we can be friends), this is a tale of ordinary folk in extraordinary situations, and this is why it works so well. You’ll find this reflected in the script, it flows so naturally. The cast are all great, and clearly gel, embracing all that is ace and terrible about punk. A more avid music fan would be able to verify the in jokes and references, so I guess Mitch and Damon will probably have that one covered. There’s no sheen, no gloss, just gritty shots and genuine, white knuckle tension. It’s very clever in its execution,always staying one step ahead, and the story ties together perfectly.
I will say, it’s maybe not as gut punchy as I would have wanted and was led to believe, but be assured this takes nothing away from how brilliant it is, because it doesn’t even have to be. I felt they could have gone a wee bit further in bringing the pain, letting the skinheads really go for it, but in terms of keeping true to the script, and the characters, I can also understand why it didn’t, as these are not your stereotypical neo nazis. In terms of gore (coz that’s why you came here, right?), it’s affecting, innovative and bloody without being unbelievable, never making a dogs dinner of it.
Believe the hype, Green Room is worthy of every great word said about it.

Jeremy Saulnier impressed critics back in 2013 with his small scale, gritty thriller Blue Ruin. It may have been low key but it made a big impact on genre fans. This month sees the release of his next feature. Keeping in the thriller/borderline horror margins it’s another one that’ll shock you and stay with you for days after viewing.

It follows a young punk rock band led by Pat (Anthon Yelchin) who travels deep into a remote part of the Pacific Northwest to play a gig. Unfortunately before they are due to leave they witness a murder which sees them becoming the trapped targets of a thuggish gang of skinheads led by the unnerving Darcy (a brilliant performance by Patrick Stewart). They won’t stop until all the evidence is cleaned up. From then on it’s a fight for survival as the group try to find a way out before they start to get eliminated one by one.

Saulnier’s film is tense, suspenseful and at times quite gory. It does have a slow start but this works as it gradually builds the characters up so that we feel invested in them. When the action and the thrills do hit they come hard and fast. The performances are solid across the cast. Anthon Yelchin begins timid but slowly progresses and delivers a much more charismatic and strong performance by the end as his character goes through a range of challenges. Imogen Poots is also good as Amber, one of the punk girls at the gig who gets caught up in the nightmare.

There is also great British talent here in the forms of Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders) and Callum Turner (War and Peace) who both deliver vulnerable yet dynamic performances. However, it is Patrick Stewart who really stands out here. Having not seen him on the big screen for quite some time it is a great comeback role and he gets thoroughly stuck in. He goes from being reserved at the beginning through shades of disconcert and ends up becoming quite unpredictable and rather frightening by the end.

The film is really well shot and creates the deep sense of seclusion brilliantly. It’s unpredictable and doesn’t quite always go in the direction you might be thinking. Having first heard about it a year ago and like many other films of a similar nature, there was a lot of hype surrounding the film and therefore I had raised expectations which weren’t quite met. It feels like the film doesn’t quite know where to end and some scenes are so dark (whether this be intentional or just a poor cinema screen) it was sometimes hard to feel engaged in the action. Nevertheless this doesn’t take away from a superb thriller that has a brilliant script and great cinematography.

Right can someone please explain the love for this movie as maybe I really am just not getting this? Struggling band turn need money, band get gig arranged at Nazi skinhead venue, they kick off with quite possibly the most inappropriate song ever and then they see a dead body and lots of angry Nazis come after them. Ok, is that is, is this what I am supposed to be getting excited over? Does it get any better once the ass-kicking begins? Kind of…

There is a good sense of tension in the confines of GREEN ROOM, place yourself there and ask what the f*ck would I do in this situation and alright I can see where they were trying to go with this film. There’s no shortage of violence too, vicious dogs versus defenceless human is never going to end well and some of the scenes were pretty grim and graphic but just kept within the levels of acceptability.

Sorry, I just didn’t feel the love for this at all. There isn’t anything wrong with it, it’s a competent movie, a solid cast, a smart script with a few smart one liners from the stranded band but it doesn’t hit the spot for me. When there was a chance to escape it wasn’t taken, you just find yourself shouting run or get that gun and shoot them while you have chance rather than the choices that our characters make.

Not in any rush to see this again, not one I recommend.

Green Room is out on DVD and Blu-Ray 19th September 2016 




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