Starring Anthon Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart, Joe Cole, Mark Webber, Callum Turner
Why is it that the best horror films of the year are never really horror films? “Green Room” will forever be placed in that stereotyped category, but Jeremy Saulnier’s follow-up to his indie hit “Blue Ruin” is better than the distinction. The key element to “Green Room” (which refers to the room at a venue where performers/entertainers are kept until their introduction) is the tension it creates between the plot and the audience. “This is a nightmare,” Yelchin’s character says at one point. Saulnier’s interpretation of that nightmare, based on his own script is an intense 90 min thrill ride of violence and survival.
Living from venue to venue, punk rock indie band The Ain’t Rights refuses to create a social media presence because they want their music to gain popularity organically. They play a disastrous gig in San Francisco, earning the four members only six bucks each. They take a desperate gig down in Portland, upon arrival realize this backwoods establishment is a retreat for skinheads, Nazi sympathizers and white supremacists. They need the money so they proceed, opening with a song that offends the large crowd. Upon heading back to the green room, guitarist Pat (Yelchin) witnesses something he shouldn’t have seen. The young band is forced back into the green room, locked inside with one of the venue’s guards, a gun and things quickly escalate into a fight or flight situation.
Precise and claustrophobic in an effective way, never obvious enough to guess how things will end.
Saulnier’s characters are never very likable. The band’s music is so off putting even the camera and sound turns away during their few performances. However, when the protagonists aren’t very likable you can only imagine how hellish the antagonists he presents. In many ways these shaved head, red shoelace wearing, anti-Semites are the scariest element of society Saulnier could possibly have used. “Green Room” has a moment of brilliance early on, when the young band members refuse to leave the room on the demands of owner Darcy Banker (Stewart). It’s this moment that represents the intelligence of the traveling friends and the script intention to bunk the horror movie stereotypes.
While “Green Room” might be too disturbing for most viewers, the audacity in which it shows a half severed wrist, shotgun to the face or a pit-bull going for the jugular only increases the tension. Poots (“That Awkward Moment”, “Need For Speed”) has built a reputation on terrible roles and bad movies. Surprisingly she is one of the thriller’s highlights, playing a character that really has nothing to lose. “Green Room” is precise, it’s claustrophobic in an effective way, and never obvious enough to guess how things will end. “Green Room” certainly meets the classic definition of a horror film (often deal with viewers’ nightmares, fears, revulsions and terror of the unknown), but thankfully Saulneir grounds everything in the realm of possibility which only makes it more frightening.
Visualizes a worst case scenario for the viewers’ nightmarish cravings.