Green Room (2015) Review
Director(s): Jeremy Saulnier
Writer(s): Jeremy Saulnier
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Patrick Stewart
Plot: A roving punk band calling themselves “The Ain’t Rights” find themselves in a deadly mess after completing a gig in a skinhead bar owned by the neo-Nazi, Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart).
Review: If you failed to catch Green Room – like most the planet outside of the United States and random countries – during its limited theatrical run, and are interested in catching the film either on VOD or on DVD/Blu-Ray, do not be discouraged by Green Room’s Blu-Ray cover art, the kind of lazy abomination that is often attached to complete straight-to-DVD shlock; the film, however, is a genuine work of art. In a rather weak year for films compared to 2014 and 2015, Green Room easily stands apart from the rest, a success owed to writer-director Jeremy Saulnier’s proficiency over his craft, honed with Blue Ruin (2013) and perfected in this film.
Largely similar to Saulnier’s revenge film, Blue Ruin, Green Room is the hybridization of a rather boilerplate survival thriller with slasher horror tropes, set in the punk rock scene with a group of young adults going up against neo-Nazis after one of the former witnesses something he shouldn’t have seen. Elevated by powerful performances by the late Anton Yelchin as his band’s de facto scrappy leader, and Patrick Stewart, leader of the neo-Nazis, Saulnier explores the idea behind the human condition that is the flight-or-flee response with Green Room, placing his characters in the compressed setting that is a club in the middle of nowhere, confining the out-of-their-element band members largely to the club’s band room, and placing the neo-Nazis everywhere outside the room, effectively pitting a clueless group of misfits against a highly organized neo-Nazi unit.
In Blue Ruin, Saulnier showed that revenge is pointless, framing violence as what it really is; a disgusting act that ends with blood and a mess. In Green Room, remaining consistent with his approach in Blue Ruin, Saulnier pushes the violence to its very extreme, forcing the viewer’s mouth agape and pouring a bucket of blood in, all while yelling “Have I washed out the bad taste of capes, spandex and aliens from your mouth yet?!” If any other director that is unable to balance tonality and brutality in an R-rated film – i.e. Eli Roth – had attempted to make a film such as Blue Ruin and Green Room, the violence would be over-the-top, stylized and flashy.
Green Room is a special kind of film. It’s not something to sit down with the whole family for a jolly ol’ good time. The film’s subject matter involves the hedonistic culture of punk rock, neo-Nazism, and violence. That is all Green Room is; a taut thriller with horrifying sequences of violence, and one that truly makes you care about the characters. With Saulnier’s brand of gritty realism, engrossing writing, and masterful direction, Green Room proves to be the perfect film that captures the duality of being both an excellent all-rounded film and being a good thriller/horror film. But now that he has made a film such as Green Room, where else can Saulnier go? Produce more of the same and risk turning into a gimmick director? Or, make children’s films from here on out? Either way, Green Room is a testament that Saulnier’s endeavors are films to keep an eye out for.