Green Room was another one of my favorite films I watched in 2016. Before I saw it, I knew almost nothing about it. I never watched any trailers, and I didn’t read any reviews either. I didn’t even know what genre it was going to be; was it a horror movie? Was it a dark comedy? Was it a silly throwback to 90’s action movies? I had no idea; all I knew about Green Room was that Sir Patrick Stewart was brilliant in it. That’s enough for me; I love Patrick Stewart. When the lights went up and I walked out of the theater I was blown away by what I just witnessed; this movie is about as intense and stressful as a movie can get.
It had me on the edge of my seat for almost its entire 95-minute runtime. It’s brutal, vicious, cerebral, and expertly acted. This is the kind of film I have a hard time classifying into a genre; sometimes it plays like a gory horror film where our heroes are being chased around in the dark, other times it’s more suspenseful and tense. There are no masked killers with mommy issues; the antagonists are way more terrifying than that. Our protagonists are menaced by Neo-Nazis with an extracurricular agenda; there’s nothing supernatural happening here. A significant chunk of the film takes place in a sort of standoff situation, and you’re coming up with your own ideas of how you’d handle the situation. Who would you trust? What would you do? Meanwhile, both sides of the conflict are playing effective mind games with one another. This is where the film feels like a thriller; you’ll be holding your breath for quite a bit of it.
The film is about a touring punk band that lands a gig at a venue full of Neo-Nazis. After a defiant and disrespectful act against their racist audience, the band witnesses something they definitely shouldn’t have witnessed. A whole lot of shit goes down, and I don’t want to spoil anymore of it. For those who have seen it, you already know way too much. It’s brutal chaos at its finest, all shot tremendously by cinematographer Sean Porter. Porter uses the shadows so skillfully that your eyes will wander all over the screen trying to anticipate where the next danger will come from, however it’s not one of those annoying kinds of movies where you can’t see anything because it’s too dark; you see exactly as much as you’re supposed to see.
The cast is outstanding; I saw Green Room just a couple of weeks after Anton Yelchin tragically passed away, and that was at the forefront of my mind. He was such a talented and gifted young actor, and he really shines in this as the main character, Pat. Pat’s band mates (played by Joe Cole, Callum Turner, and Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkatal) all have individuality and you really pick up on their camaraderie; Imogen Poots is notable as Amber, a mysterious girl they’re stuck with in their heinous predicament.
The main reason why I was interested in seeing Green Room was Sir Patrick Stewart; I remember watching a YouTube video where the host mentioned Stewart’s phenomenal performance, and how wonderful he was. In this film, Stewart plays Darcy, the leader of the Neo-Nazis; and maybe he was overhyped for me, because I wasn’t particularly moved or frightened by him. Don’t get me wrong, Sir Patrick Stewart is fantastic in almost everything he’s in, but I guess I expected something that transcended what I thought Stewart was capable of, instead all I got was a more reserved performance from someone who preforms fairly reserved in the first place. In my personal opinion, Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots were the highlights.
Upon my first viewing, I guess I was mesmerized into thinking this was a perfect film; I had to have my girlfriend show me some fairly flawed moments and ideas. For instance, someone seriously wounded is miraculously fixed by duct tape. It’s something silly and non-consequential, but once it was pointed out I had a hard time letting it go upon my second viewing. Some of the characters make some poor choices that no sane person would ever think to make, and the motivation for Darcy and his band of Neo-Nazis is a bit of a letdown. They’re only minor complaints that do very little to hurt the film, but still I feel I should make mention of them. If you’re in the mood to watch a movie that will get your heart thumping, and your adrenaline rushing, Green Room is perfect for such an occasion.
Green Room (2015) Written and Directed by: Jeremy Saulnier. Starring: Anton Yelchin, Sir Patrick Stewart, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Eric Edelstein, Joe Cole, Callum Turner
8 out of 10