“Green Room” Movie Review

About 10 months ago, I professed that Deadpool was the most violent movie released in 2016. I would now like to retract that statement after having seen Green Room. This slasher horror-thriller- written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier- premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015 before receiving its theatrical release the following April. Barely turning a profit on its $5 million budget, the A24 production further provides proof of Saulnier’s repertoire as a character-focused indie director. Following a series of less than desirable circumstances, the young punk rock band, the Ain’t Rights, reluctantly agree to perform a gig at a neo-Nazi bar in backwoods Oregon. After their performance, the bassist, played by the late Anton Yelchin, accidently walks in on a horrible crime being committed in the green room. The band gets held hostage, and now we have an intense, grisly, unforgiving game of cat-and-mouse. Jeremy Saulnier is also responsible for bringing us the 2014 revenge film, Blue Ruin, a well-crafted piece of thoughtful, original cinema rarely seen in the thriller genre. This horror film is a stupendous follow-up to that, no doubt, but I have issues with some decisions certain characters made. I’ll discuss that a bit later, but let’s first talk about the cast. The lead and supporting actors did a fantastic job with their respective roles. Anton Yelchin is truly the underdog of this story, thrown into one of the worst scenarios imaginable with little knowledge on how to get himself- or his friends- out of it alive. The two biggest standouts were, first of all, Macon Blair as the skinhead Gabe. For all intents and purposes, he was the only reasonable neo-Nazi in this movie. He’s the one who keeps trying to come up with ways to clean this situation up without anyone dying. But he has to put up with his superior, Darcy. In the other standout, Patrick Stewart gives an against-type performance as the leader of these neo-Nazis. Mundane, intelligent, and almost entirely unsympathetic, watching Jean-Luc Picard becoming the methodical leader of a group of violent hate criminals deserves more recognition. While on the topic of the antagonists, Green Room did a surprisingly unique job with its portrayal of white supremacists. Make no mistake; they’re all terrible human beings who probably deserve to rot in jail or even get killed. But it establishes that this kind of group serves as a family for troubled outsiders. In fact, half of the skinheads onscreen don’t even look beyond the age of 20. It brought an interesting human element to these villains because the one thing scarier than any movie monster is the random man on the street no one would think of twice. On a technical level, this is a very impressive film. The exterior shots of the dense outdoor woods around the bar are stunningly beautiful, bringing a sense of realism and isolation for our protagonists. Meanwhile, on the inside, Julia Bloch’s sharp eye for editing shows when the band members feel closed in by their oppressors. And yeah, in case you didn’t catch it in my intro, this is one violent movie. Every act of violence happens for a reason in the plot, so nothing is gratuitous with any drawn out close-up shots of people dying. But the sheer brutality may turn off some of my more queasy audiences. From disembowelments to broken arms to Pitbulls chewing off a person’s neck, Saulnier holds absolutely nothing back. But the area where I felt this film faltered were the decisions some of the characters made in the script. Similar to Blue Ruin, some of the people on-screen made a number of choices ranging from questionable to just outright stupid and frustrating. Much of the runtime is spent seeing the band debating about their plan of action in the titular waiting room before going out in the open, and retreating back to the green room. Were I in their shoes it’s difficult to say if I would have made the calls they had to make. All I know is that were Michelle from 10 Cloverfield Lane one of the band members, the whole plot would have been over in maybe 15 minutes. But I guess they had to find a way to expand it to an hour and a half to justify the theatrical release. If anyone ever gets into this kind of situation, keep this in mind: Never run off by yourself when the shit goes down. Sticking with your party is the most efficient way to stay alive in a game of cat-and-mouse. That’s not anything to say that the movie is bad. In fact, Green Room is a fantastic and unique horror film to have come out this year, an otherwise baren wasteland of mediocre attempts in the genre. The realistic dialogue flows well with the character interactions and the setting itself, making for one hell of an intense and gorey thrill ride. Though, I can’t recommend it for everyone.

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