Boasting an all star cast, Green Room (a reference the theatre world’s backstage green room) is a perverse, bloody story of an underground punk band who become the target of a merciless neo-Nazi faction after they are witness to a violent crime, being forced to barricade themselves in the venue’s green room (hence the film’s title) in order to stay alive.
Green Room is a slow burner. The film opens in typical indie film fashion, following a group of teens who scrape their away across the vast American landscape in a bid to make it big in the music business. Sleeping in their van and syphoning gas along the way as they play a number of gigs, things go from bad to worse whey they become the target of a warehouse full of neo-Nazis headed by Patrick Stewart as Darcy, the cult’s enigmatic calculating leader.
Perhaps the appeal of the film is its effective, yet gruesome use of blood and gore to dramatic effect as punks are pitted against Nazis. Who will win?
The creative mind behind 2013’s critically acclaimed crime-drama-thriller Blue Ruin starring Macon Blair, who also stars in Green Room as Gabe, this savage horror thriller takes on these two genres and rather impressively elevates them. Equal parts gruesome and funny, its rather unusual pitting of punks versus hillbillies comes off much better than expected
Audiences will probably primarily consider the film on the basis of its cast on initial read, but be warned it packs one hell of a punch as Saulnier’s subversive thriller takes on a whole new dimension as the film progresses.
There is a playfulness and feeling of trepidation contained within Green Room that is largely missing from other films of late of a similar kind, and to this effect Saulnier seems to know exactly what he is doing. Green Room in parts reaches into black-comedy territory, using comedy as a method in diffusing tension and stopping the film from turning into some torture-porn Human Centipede territory. If a clear indication of the power of the film is audience reaction, the fact that several sequences had people running for the exit in the screening I attended must mean something. It would seem that Green Room ticks all the boxes for a rather successful horror-thriller franchise in the making.
The film boasts a small cast of relatively new-to-the-business actors who each in their own prospective way impress onscreen, the skinheads less so as there are restrictions within their capacity within the narrative. You can include Stewart in this categorization as he really is given little to do in the film. On the other hand Saulnier’s exploration of space which confines the film to the bar gives the film a decent amount of leg room in which to really stretch its narrative.
Ticking many of the conventional boxes that ensure a decent amount of viewer concentration throughout the film, perhaps the film elevates itself in knowing when and how far to go whist still remaining realistic. The film is neither too long nor too short, nor too restricted in its use of dialogue; the film’s ending is a masterclass in suspense.
Review by Rayvenn Shaleigha D’Clark