GREEN ROOM (USA/16/95mins)
Directed by Jeremy Saulnier. Starring Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Macon Blair, Patrick Stewart.
THE PLOT: Punk band Ain’t Rights travel the country picking up gigs and making enough money for petrol and food. When a gig is badly managed, the organiser promises a better one at a bar his cousin knows… A white supremacist bar in the middle of nowhere. After the gig, the band stumble across the aftermath of a murder, and suddenly find themselves in an unrelenting and violent fight for their lives.
THE VERDICT: Alia Shawkat, and Anton Yelchin as part of the punk band Ain’t Rights make their characters fearless in that 20-something punk band type of way, but once the action kicks off, Yelchin and Shawkat come into their own, carefully balancing fear and bravado in a way that makes us root for these small, outnumbered underdogs. Imogen Poots plays Amber, a regular of the bar, caught up in the crossfire; her chemistry with Yelchin is sweet, but Poots makes sure the audience knows this is a girl with a seriously dark undertone. On the other side of the barricaded door to the green room Patrick Stewart leads the charge against the young interlopers, stepping away from some of the more comedic roles he has done of late to make Darcy quietly spoken and terrifying. Of course, Stewart gets some brilliantly dry and hilarious lines (‘can you hear me if I speak at this volume?’) and the double act between he and Macon Blair, and their slight push and pull of power, is a joy to watch on screen.
Saulnier’s screenplay for ‘Green Room’ is incredibly simple – often frustratingly so, as we never truly know what spurred the initial murder – but it is also this simplicity that makes the film work. Jokes recur throughout the film, with the cast making spectacular use of the question of who their ‘Desert Island Band’ would be; initially naming the bands that sound cool (Slayer, The Misfits) before recanting as their situation deteriorates to give us an insight behind their swagger (Madonna, Prince, Simon & Garfunkel). While the screenplay is gruesome – often prompting gasps of disgust and shock from the assembled audience – it is also darkly hilarious as it plays with horror movie clichés to wonderful effect.
As director, Jeremy Saulnier plays with tension and fear, allowing both to build before they are dispelled with a carefully placed laugh or a gentle moment. The film feels a little like ‘The Raid’ in places; a claustrophobic, dark and violent fight for survival, but Saulnier never truly allows ‘Green Room’ to be anything other than inspired by other great surviival and war flicks. The action comes in bursts, is often blood spatteringly gruesome, and is definitely not for the faint of heart. This never becomes gratuitous though, and always feels in keeping with the characters and the story being told. The pacing is strong throughout the film, but runs out of momentum a little once the action moves outside the bar, but Sean Porter’s cinematography plays with colour and light, leaving the entire film feeling breathless and weirdly beautiful.
In all, ‘Green Room’ is twisted, massively violent and darkly hilarious. While it may be light on story in places, and suffer some pacing issues, it is also draws the audience into this unfamiliar world, and leaves us to fight our way out with the characters. Shawkat, Yelchin, Stewart and Blair shine in this film. Can’t wait to see which colour Saulnier tackles next.
RATING: 4.5/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

Green Room
Review by Brogen Hayes
4.5Bloody Brilliant!
  • filmbuff2011

    Director Jeremy Saulnier follows up his distinctive revenge film Blue Ruin with an even better film in the similarly colour-themed Green Room. Along with The Witch, it’s a strong contender for horror film of the year.

    Punk rock band the All Rights are struggling to find recognition. It’s composed of Pat (Anton Yelchin), Reece (Joe Cole), Tiger (Callum Turner) and Sam (Alia Shawkat). However, they take gigs as they come along. They head out in their van to the backwoods, where they’re due to perform at a country bar ran by Darcy (Patrick Stewart) and his son Gabe (Macon Blair). This is no ordinary bar – it’s quite rough and is full of white-supremacist skinheads. Having performed their set, they return to the titular Green Room, or lounge, to leave. It’s at this point that Pat stumbles upon a crime scene, which is also witnessed by Amber (Imogen Poots). The band is locked in the Green Room with one of the gang members. They overpower him and use him as a bargaining chip. This is when Darcy tries to negotiate with them to reach a deal as to how to proceed with this tricky predicament. With their very lives at risk, things soon turn nasty…

    Green Room builds upon the promise of Blue Ruin, once again featuring the darker elements of society turning on our main characters (or is it the other way around?). This is backwoods survival horror correctly filtered through the violent, desperate behaviours of characters living on the margins of society. Saulnier is smart though – he has a way of making his characters far scarier than any monster, vampire or ghost. People being nasty to each other is scary enough. He doesn’t pull any punches either in showing bloody, gory deaths – there were audible gasps at this reviewer’s screening. People die horribly in this film, with the murders being short, messy affairs as they would be in real life. No bloodless gunshots or clean cuts with quick cutaways here – leave that to Hollywood.

    Saulnier’s script is well-observed and quite intelligent for a horror film. This is a more realistic, what-if scenario that plays out with ever-increasing tension. There’s a recurring line throughout the film about desert island bands, which is the source of some humour but also clearly defines the characters. Cast against type, Stewart is an ocean of calm amid all the chaos – but you also don’t doubt that his character will kill the whole band to protect his business and family. Murder seems to be matter-of-fact to him – just another day at the office, hinting at a troubled backstory.

    A committed cast go full throttle with their scenes, which build to a brutal but impressive climax. Even the simple Hitchcockian touch of a dog on the loose heading towards our unknowing characters creates tension. It’s by turns funny, intense, bloody and hard-hitting. Like The Descent, Green Room is the kind of survival horror film that leaves you emotionally and physically drained, reaching for the sunlight and an escape to the real world. In other words, it’s a sure-fire winner that simply has to be seen. ****

  • emerb

    “Green Room” is the follow up to “Blue Ruin”, a revenge indie movie directed by Jeremy Saulnier, which caused quite a stir when it was released in 2013. Not many may be aware of this director, but after this movie, he will have made a bigger name for himself as a remarkable talent and one to watch. He gives us a real treat – a terrifying, intense and inventive thriller set in Oregon which sees a quartet of punk rockers, “The Aint Rights”, in a nightmarish scenario where they are forced to fight off Hitler Youth psychos armed with shotguns, machetes and fierce bulldogs. Be prepared to be shocked….
    “The Ain’t Rights” are a group of hard-core musicians who’ve been touring the country in a beat-up van. They are comprised of singer Tiger (Callum Turner), guitarist Sam (Alia Shawkat), bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin), and drummer Reece (Joe Cole). When a gig falls through, they find themselves broke so when the offer to play for a group of rabid white supremacists at a show in the Oregon backwoods comes up, they reluctantly accept. Even after bottles and insults are hurled at them, the gig goes relatively well. They seem satisfied and return to
    their off-stage lounge, the “Green Room” of the title. Having been paid, they are all set to leave but Pat has to return to the room to get his phone, when he discovers a dead woman on the floor with a knife in her head. The group are hustled back inside, the door locked and they find themselves held hostage in the company of a surly bouncer, a friend of the victim (Imogen Poots) and a gun with five bullets in it. This is where the already tense movie really gets going. Outside, venue owner Darcy (Patrick Stewart) is intent on keeping the killing under wraps and proceeds to gather his troops, weapons and pitbulls.
    The cast is uniformly superb. Macon Blair, who also starred in “Blue Ruin” is excellent as the club manager who has to figure out how to prevent the situation erupting into pure mayhem. Stewart makes a terrific villain here, his Darcy is chilling and menacing and it’s interesting to see him in a role like this where he is cast strongly against type. Imogen Poots , playing local girl Amber, who ends up trapped with the band also gives a good turn. Barely recognisable thanks to a ratty punk couture outfit and a weird punky mullet, she starts off as a quiet bystander until the situation turns uglier and her performance goes from strength to strength as she becomes forced to step into the fray. However, I would have liked if her backstory had been explained a bit more, it’s not clear exactly how she got there to begin with.
    “Green Room” is a thrilling work of terror, mystery and suspense. Saulnier is extremely talented and gets everything right here: the top notch cast, the broody music, the editing, the slow build of tension and atmosphere. Not to mention the constant adrenaline jolts of pure horror when you least expect it. Admittedly, the brutality, gore and human flesh will not appeal to all. This movie features bullets,
    knives, wild dogs and plenty of blood. Characters get annihilated is swift succession and the violence is raw and visceral. In only 94 minutes and a very tight claustrophobic space, this movie will chill and shock you. “Green Room” is a highly effective movie and deserves to be seen. It really got under my skin and I came out of the cinema both jumpy, nervy and on edge. Don’t miss it but don’t go if you’re queasy!

  • dainiux79

    Green Room is one of those rare horror movies that actually gets better rather than worse as it proceeds.