Green Room is one of those movies that isn’t at all hesitant about sneaking up on you and showing you exactly what you’re in for, be it through taboo subject matter (white supremacy) ultra violence or a range of truly sadistic characters. And once you accept what your next hour and half is going to be like, you’ll find yourself suitably entertained.
Written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier (his biggest film to date), Green Room tells the story of a struggling rock band who tour across the country seeking out potential gigs. When they find one outside Portland at a neo-nazi bar, things go awry when Pat (Anton Yelchin) stumbles upon a murder after the show. The band are locked down in the same room until things get sorted out. Problem is, the people in charge of the bar have no intention of letting them leave alive.
Green Room plays on isolated, one room sets like Saw for much of the film and it works brilliantly. The constant threat and speculation on how the band is going to escape is the films bread and butter as Saulnier stacks all the cards against them, introducing new obstacles and stamping out any predictable outcomes.
In any other film, I would lament (read: roll my freakin eyes) the actual reason that things got so messed up but Saulnier harnesses how chaotic the situation and there is a sense throughout the film that everybody is fully aware how out of hand things have gotten over something so comparatively trivial.
Of course all of this is bolstered by a teriffic cast. Anton Yelchin is fantastic in his penultimate role before his tragic death this year. He shines, expressing pain and fear and projecting a tough exterior in the face of the enemy. I can’t help but feel as though we were about to see him completely break out and become one of the worlds top actors. I may not get to talk about him again so I’m taking this paragraph to express how saddened I am by someone who was so gifted and who may not have been a household name, despite being equipped for it.
Alia Shawkat plays Sam. I always loved her on Arrested Development and its great to see her grown up and acting her ass off. She suits this sort of film perfectly and can definitely find a home in grimy, adult thrillers.
Joe Cole who plays Reece was a surprise stand out too. Someone needed to be the tough guy but he does it with a trace of fear and doubt that seeps through his expressions and actions.
Every story needs bad guy too and who better than Patrick Stewart to play the leader of a band of neo-nazis. The man is a global treasure, able to still emit charm through such a thick layer of malevolence. His turn-out here is fantastic and Green Room is worth the price of admission, even just to see Stewart revel in a role he usually doesn’t deliver.
We get a very solid action film too all wrapped up in the guise of a taut thriller. Supported by great lighting (or lack there of) and inventive set pieces, there is a real sense of urgency in Green Room’s shootouts. However if you get queasy at the sight of gore, Green Room may be a little too much to bear. It has an R18+ rating in Australia and it isn’t hard to see why. One scene sees Sam’s hand practically hanging on by a thread and Yelchin’s reaction to it makes it that much more difficult to watch.
Green Room is a fantastic thriller with next to no discernible drawbacks. It’s just that good. It is an unrelenting ride that never lets you settle. An unflinching, pull no punches film that is amplified in every respect due to an incredibly emotive cast who go for broke.
Anton Yelchin, you’re work speaks for itself. Rest well.
Review Score: FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Green Room is available now on DVD & Blu-Ray.