Director of Blue Ruin, Jeremy Saulnier, adds another colourful title to his filmography with Green Room, a gruelling, claustrophobic horror-thriller.
The Ain’t Rights, a punk band (consisting of Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole and Callum Turner) desperate for a payday, reluctantly accept a gig at a remote neo-Nazi skinhead bar. Their set goes surprisingly well (despite initially antagonising the crowd with a cover of a certain Dead Kennedys song), however upon leaving the band stumbles onto a crime scene and leader of the neo-Nazi group Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart), decides as witnesses they need to be eliminated. Terrified, the band (along with Imogen Poots as Amber, another witness caught up in the bloody situation) barricade themselves in the green room and must fight to survive.
From scene to scene, the tension and brutality intensely rises and is not for the faint-hearted, however, the acts of violence are purposeful and each blow is endured by the audience too. Separating itself from other movies within the genre (although revelling in genre clichés elsewhere), Green Room is anchored by a group of youngsters who are naive yet rebellious in equal measure, but most importantly are likeable. Anton Yelchin as Pat, who quickly becomes the hesitant leader of the group, has a warmth and likability that transcends this role. Unfortunately, praising Yelchin comes with great sadness, as the talented young actor tragically passed away last month.
As Darcy, Patrick Stewart offers one of the most unnerving villains in recent memory, his calm and cold delivery clashing with the frantic savagery unfolding around him. Stewart has little screen time, however, similar to the likes of Brian Cox’s Hannibal Lecktor in Manhunter and Kevin Spacey’s John Doe in Seven, less is definitely more. Macon Blair who wowed in Saulnier’s Blue Ruin makes an appearance as skinhead bouncer and Darcy’s apprentice Gabe, quietly and subtly delivering another note-perfect performance, portraying his inner conflict through a lost look in his eyes.
Amongst the grisly events, there are small doses of fun to be had, the band trying to figure out their desert island disc choices, along with their overall childlike approach in the face of tremendous threat is a welcome breather from the inevitable bloodshed.
Green Room is an unapologetically savage, blood-soaked thrill ride.