AKA that film that features Patrick Stewart as the leader of a bunch of neo-Nazis. AKA "Do you feel lucky, punk?"
Written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, who previously gave us the excellent Blue Ruin (and before that gave us Murder Party - which I have yet to watch), Green Room could accurately be described as a snarling beast of a film. It feels raw and visceral throughout, and not just because the main protagonists are members of a punk rock band who prefer their vocals to be primal and full of anger.
The band is made up of Alia Shawkat, Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole, and Callum Turner. They're not having a very good time, having to siphon petrol to keep their van on the road and being interviewed by someone who no longer has a show on air . . . . . . . . and can't get them the decent gig that they thought they were travelling to. To make amends, they are offered a gig elsewhere. It's the middle of nowhere. Most of the audience seem to be of a certain political leaning, to put it nicely, but the band figure that they can insult them, play a few songs, and make out with a few hundred dollars for their troubles. Which isn't bad at all. And then someone pops into a room backstage and witnesses some people around a fresh corpse. Which is when things start to go from bad to worse to the stuff of nightmares.
Green Room is a lean, nasty, grimy thriller that feels very much like something from an earlier decade. Thankfully, it manages to feel that way without making too many obvious nods and winks to viewers. The most obvious jumping off point would be the classic Assault On Precinct 13, and one or two other John Carpenter movies, but these characters, and this level of violence and brutality, could have stepped out from any number of xploitation movies from the '70s and '80s.
But I don't want to spoil your expectations with hyperbole here. Don't go into the movie expecting a) wall to wall violence and b) nastiness unlike anything you've ever witnessed before. No. What Saulnier does so well is litter his movie with moments to make you wince and scenes that often take a left turn when you thought they were moving right (no pun intended).
All of the aforementioned cast members do a very good job, even when jumping around and trying to look like punk rockers, and Patrick Stewart certainly makes a great impression with his relatively limited amount of screentime, but there are also fantastic turns from Mark Webber and Macon Blair, to name but two of a handful of people I could have singled out. Imogen Poots is a bit out of place here, but I like her anyway and she's not exactly stinking up the entire film. She just doesn't really seem to fit into this world.
If you're hoping for another Blue Ruin then this isn't for you. But if you're hoping for a film that uses fight dogs, box cutters, guns, fire extinguishers, and plenty of fake blood then get to this as soon as possible. Personally, I think this is the better film. But that just says a lot more about my mental state than the difference in quality between the two.
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