D/W: Jeremy Saulnier. DP: Sean Porter. Starring: Patrick Stewart/Anton Yelchin/Imogen Poots/Alia Shawkat/Joe Cole/Callum Turner/Mark Webber/Eric Edelstein/Macon Blair.
Unlike The Witch‘s subtle historical horror, the new film Green Room plugs you into an amp and drags you along for a wild ride. After doing a festival circuit the film was bought by A24 prior to its Toronto and Sundance appearances. A good piece of horror fun, Green Room is perfect antidote to the big studio tent-poles who are slowly removing personal horror from violence.
Green Room centers on a heavy rock band that flies under the radar, shirking social media in the name of true music. Stealing gas and living literally hand to mouth they reluctantly take a gig to make some extra cash to finish up their tour. Off the group then goes and arrives at a Neo-Natzi esq type club. After their set they discover a stabbing victim in the green room and become embroiled in a cat/mouse trap with the owner as they attempt to wait for the police to arrive.
Cinematographer by trade, director/writer Jeremy Saulnier handles Green Room with confidence. His 2013 film, Blue Ruin, garnered festival buzz premiering at Cannes. Here the trick is clearly keeping his characters and his audience in the dark. The film keeps a good pace and the cat/mouse story line works because there is never an attempt to explain (other than basics) why the events must occur. The unexplained breeds the panic of the group. The few reasons given are not the most inventive, but the core of Green Room is certainly the wrong place/wrong time of the group and it works.
The club owner/head honcho Darcy is played by veteran Patrick Stewart. With his eerily calm delivery of most lines he seems like a cat ready to pounce whose temper every now and then betrays him. Stewart’s general good aura gives the cult/Neo-Natzi group a weight that helps the film. The band has good chemistry with each other with Anton Yelchin’s Pat inadvertently becoming the lead. His simpering boyishness is a good contrast to the bullies in the club yet echoes cult side kick Gabe (Macon Blair) ineptitude at the physical. Imogen Poots hair and non showering look seems to have finally found its place with her performance as Amber. Her exasperation translates well.
Ultimately Green Room gives the gratuitous violence of the horror genre some shape and form. There is some inventive use of duck tape that is quite nauseating. The film is full of turns so will keep your heartbeat going and has a great final countdown sequence that is not without humor. It does not have the style of The Witch or even the performances of 10 Cloverfield Lane, but it has a fresh energy that allows its characters to keep fighting. A solid horror flick probably best watched at night, take it from someone who saw it at 11 AM!