Jeremy Saulnier is a cinematographer and camera operator turned writer/director and although he has only two previous feature length films under his belt, he is a breath of fresh air. Blue Ruin was a classic noir thriller and the best film of 2013 in the same vein as the Cohen Brothers, Blood Simple from 1984. Yes, Blue Ruin was THAT good. Green Room is only his third film as writer and director and although it is not as fresh as Blue Ruin, it is still a grisly, tightly wrapped thriller that will have you gripping your seat until the last shot.
The film stars Anton Yelchin as a member of a punk band, The Ain’t Rights, and its seeming leader. The four person band has fallen on hard times, looking for paying gigs while syphoning gas out of people’s cars to put in their van in order to make it the paying gigs. They get offered a chance to play for some good money but the bad news is, it is a skinhead bar in the middle of nowhere in Oregon. The are desperate and agree. The gig goes well even for the crowd they are playing for, but upon being paid and collecting their equipment to leave, one of them witnesses a crime. Now, all four are trapped in the “Green Room” (a place where performers wait until they are called for on stage), while the skinheads outside decide what to do with them. When the skinheads run out of ideas, they call the bar’s owner, Darcy (Patrick Stewart).
Darcy tries to appear diplomatic, but he and his right hand man, Gabe (Macon Blair, the lead actor in Blue Ruin) are anything but. More Skinheads or Red Laces, as the hardened punks are referred to, are called in and pretty soon it is a battle for survival against not only the skinheads but specially trained killer dogs. The Red Laces are the most devout white supremacists that Darcy has and those red laces they wear come at huge cost from someone else’s suffering at the hands of these punks. Darcy, always in control of his emotions like any good psychopath, maneuvers his men to try and insure that The Ain’t Rights never make it out alive.
Green Room is nothing original, to be sure, but writer and director Jeremy Saulnier knows exactly what he wants to achieve with his film and he does it well. He crafted a very effective thriller that has excellent acting, a thoughfully written script and a truly evil bad guy in the form of Darcy. This man is without an ounce of pity or remorse and refers to his bar’s theme of white supremacy as “A movement, not a party.” Yelchin, Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat and Callum Turner all turn what could have been standard roles into characters I connected with and cared about. The lovely British actress, Imogen Poots provides another interesting character as Amber who is the only link to what Darcy has in mind. She is a victim stuck with the band and her performance adds a level of dread to the story. We don’t know how it is going to end, but Amber seems to know it will not be good for them. Macon Blair, so awesome as the lead in Blue Ruin, plays Guy with level headed coolness and efficiency. You are not sure where his loyalties are but Blair’s acting helps sell the plot.
Green Room is a violent film and there are some scenes that are downright shocking, but there is a point to be made, here and Saulnier knows just how far to push the envelope. This film does not strive to be anything other than a solid, low budget thriller and it is a good one. I was not sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised and even found the score by Brooke Blair and Will Blair to be quietly chilling and effective. Green Room is not for everybody. It is graphic in its violence and not for the squeamish, but if you want a good story with characters that you grow to care about, carefully, well paced tension and a deliciously evil bad guy, Green Room is your ticket.
Green Room- ***3/4 out of 5
Green Room- Rated R for graphic violence and harsh language
Green Room- Run Time is 95 minutes
Green Room is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for theaters and showtimes.