Review: GREEN ROOM
Director Jeremy Saulnier made a lot of genre fans giddy with excitement, when in 2007 he unleashed one of the most lovable horror comedies around: MURDER PARTY. It seemed like the impressive debut would immediately lead to other projects, but we didn’t get a sophomore film from Saulnier until 2014’s BLUE RUIN. Where as MURDER PARTY made you laugh just as much cringe in horror, BLUE RUIN dropped the humor and instead went for a very serious and beautifully shot tale of revenge and the consequences of violence. Returning actor/collaborator Macon Blair really commanded the film, providing viewers with yet another element that succeeded in every level and the duo of Saulnier and Blair seemed again, to be heading to bigger and better things. This time though, the duo quickly began working on a film that would further showcase Saulnier’s talent as a filmmaker/storyteller who can tell serious stories about violence, while at the same time, giving fans of MURDER PARTY‘s violence and practical FX an equal part in the film. The result of that work is GREEN ROOM, a film that again, shows how wonderfully talented Saulnier is at telling an enthralling story, one that grabs you by the collar and throws you into the film’s ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 meets Peckinpah approach.
Following a young touring punk rock band (played by Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole and Callum Turner) who desperately needs another gig to be able to make it home, GREEN ROOM does an excellent job of allowing its viewer to get to to know the characters and really spends a good amount of time developing characters that you don’t only recognize, but can at times, identify with. After a failed show, the young band resorts to siphoning gasoline from nearby cars, and drives to a compound-looking location that the failed punk promoter of the failure of a show recommended them to play at. Immediately after arriving there, it’s obvious that the venue and compound is ran by skinheads who definitely lean towards the white power mentality. Yelchin’s Pat character is obviously annoyed by that fact and recommends that the band covers an anti-nazi punk song, something that is noticeably not taken likely by the club’s resident/workers. Soon after, Yelchin, grabbing a left behind phone in the green room of the club (the place in a club where bands hang out before and after their set), accidentally stumbles into a murder scene in which a couple of skinheads murdered a young girl and the girl’s friend Amber (FRIGHT NIGHT‘s Imogen Poots) yells for Pat to call the cops. Soon, the entire band is stuck in the green room, and the film begins to kick in, with a full on siege film featuring the neo-nazi gang and their leader Darcy (X-MEN, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION‘s Patrick Stewart) all trying to get into the room and dispose of the scared band.
Just the setup of the film is enough to give you as a viewer a full on panic attack, and the tension provided by Stewart and his gang of neo-nazis (SCOTT PILGRIM‘s Mark Webber and BLUE RUIN star Macon Blair are two standouts within the skinheads) is so realistic, that it’s impossible NOT to feel like you’re in the room with Yelchin and his band. It’s a film that you might want to watch alongside some Xanax, because every chance the band might get to escape, they encounter such brutal and realistic levels of violence, that you’re left on the edge of your seat for the film’s whole second half. Saulnier shows such growth as a filmmaker from film to film and GREEN ROOM is just another step up, showing that he could tell a story about how people who are forced into violence can sometimes be capable of things they never thought they’d be capable of. The test of a good siege film is how much you care about the characters trying to get out, and Yelchin, Shawkat, Cole and Turner are all excellent in the film, giving performances that are able to rival Stewart’s soft spoken but SCARY as hell Darcy character. There’s also a soft and almost fragile angle to Blair’s Gabe character, a white supremacist who you can tell is bothered by the violence and carnage happening in front of him. His subtlety adds such a great layer to an already wonderful film, and it further shows how great of an actor Blair is. Such great performances by every actor involved forces you to feel for every character that may or may not meet their gruesome end by the film’s finale…and there are quite a few casualties in the film.
A brutal and realistic siege film that refuses to pull any punches, GREEN ROOM is a film that you will not soon forget. It’s execution, acting and ability to keep you on the edge of your seat sets it apart from most thrillers these days. It’s a film that will no doubt be considered a classic within ten years, a film that will stand the test of time.