Green Room is one of those films that probably won’t get the respect it deserves until a little while down the road, or when we film critics tell enough people how great it is. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, since it is written and directed by Blue Ruin’s Jeremy Saulnier (if you haven’t seen that film, you should). For a single location thriller about apunk rock band trying to fight for survival, the film tells a brilliantly written and executed, surprisingly universal human story...albeit an extremely violent one.
The Ain’t Rights are a punk band comprised of four friends: Pat (Anton Yelchin), Reece (Joe Cole), Sam (Alia Shawkat), and Tiger (Callum Turner). They’re purists when it comes to their music, and as far as we can tell they survive off it alone. Touring the west coast, the group is in a van big enough to haul them and their equipment. They syphon off gasoline to keep the van going and save what few dollars they have.
After getting hired to play a paying gig in a secluded club in the backwoods of Oregon, the group reluctantly obliges. They’ve been informed by Tad (David W. Thompson), a promoter and music reporter who owes them one for stiffing them, that the club is run by neo Nazis. They just didn’t know they would stumble upon a murder right after the show. Once the scene has been seen, it can’t be undone, and there can’t be witnesses. Which means the group has to play a game of wits and survival with the club owner, Darcy (Patrick Stewart).
The casting in this film is perfect. I couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role of Darcy, and Stewart’s years of experience gives the film a dangerous villain who never raises his voice. Yet, it’s not a film where Stewart’s presence saves the film, it only enhances and fortifies an already solidly casted movie. Each member of the band is a fully realized character that has a moment to shine. The same can be said about the skinheads as well.
Always a master of Pace, Saulnier knows how to build a scene, let it breathe and then shake things up a bit. Once the group is locked into the green room, the film is extremely tense until the end, but Saulnier is kind enough to intercut dark humor and moments to relax between violence. I was extremely pleased with everything prior to the murder discovery. Each scene was tightly edited by Julia Bloch and advanced the story with no room for fluff.
As with any group survival film, not everyone will make it to the end. Getting to the end is a huge adrenaline rush though! In a film where the protagonists are forced to face their mortality, Green Room finds plenty of human moments and jokes that will turn this into a cult classic.