A room from hell: “Green Room” review
By DANIEL RUSSELL
After strong showings at both Cannes Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival, writer and director Jeremy Saulnier’s “Green Room” will make its theatrical debut this month. A follow-up to his fantastic film “Blue Ruin”, this movie revolves around a similar theme found in his work: the consequences of violence.
Many action-filled and violent movies never really focus on these heinous acts, and really just shrug it off. Rather than the camera cutting away, the focus stays on the victim, showing the audience what has happened in detail. In Saulnier’s films, no single act of violence isn’t met without consequences, and all of these consequences are focused upon in great detail.
Another interesting aspect of Saulnier’s films is the main character. The violent acts depicted in his films are usually from inept characters, creating the sense that these are just normal people thrust into horrifying circumstances.
And this is exactly what’s going on in “Green Room.” Punk rock band “The Ain’t Rights” are in the midst of a final attempt at making it in the music scene, before calling it quits. After a terrible show, the band gets a last second gig in a remote bar in the woods of Oregon. Upon discovering that the bar is mostly attended by neo-Nazis, the band reluctantly goes through with the gig, desperate for money. After their set, the band stumbles upon a horrific act of violence in the venue’s green room, and becomes trapped by the bar’s owner Darcy (Patrick Stewart) and his employees. The group, consisting of Pat (Anton Yelchin), Amber (Imogen Poots), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Joe Cole), and Tiger (Callum Turner), have to fight their way out of the bar to make it out alive.
One well-done aspect of the film revolves around the introduction of our main characters. There’s more than an adequate amount of time spent introducing the band members, and as a result, we care about what happens to these characters when their lives are in danger. And as for the antagonists, there are ulterior motives to why they don’t want the band to leave, aside from the obvious fact that they witnessed a crime. It gives the violent nature of the film a purpose, rather than just a string of random violent acts, for the sake of violence.
The film’s tone is undeniably tense, even before the siege begins. Before the band even gets to the bar, we see an overhead shot of them driving down a lone road in the heart of the Oregon forest, unaware of what they’re stumbling upon. The tension only goes uphill from here, as each shocking act of realistic violence will leave you on the edge of your seat.
In a rare villainous role, Patrick Stewart is fantastic as Darcy, the owner of the bar, and head of the skinhead gang. His performance is fear-inducing without being too over the top, proving to be an effective villain despite his limited screen time. Everyone in the main cast is great as well, effectively displaying that they’re all friends who have known each other for a while, something that will keep you rooting for them as the movie goes on.
“Green Room” is a movie that needs to be seen. Although not for everyone, the film deals with violence and its consequences in a way that most films don’t bother to address. Jeremy Saulnier has only strengthened his case as a filmmaker to be noticed. “Green Room” makes its nationwide debut this Friday, Apr. 29.