Somewhere the logline “punk band must evade neo-Nazi skinheads after witnessing a murder” made sense to someone and it has manifested itself in the creepy, tight little thriller “Green Room.” I’m not quite sure how to even describe this film to someone. Is it horror? Is it a thriller? It’s a bit of both but it’s certainly a suspenseful journey that isn’t afraid to show pretty intense and graphic violence. The film is injected with so much soul and depravity I’m not even sure what to compare it to. Director Jeremey Saulnier gives the film a neo-realistic crime thriller feel with some truly grotesque makeup effects. It’s an interesting film that’s truly impossible to guess what exactly is going to happen next.
“Green Room’s” setup feels akin to something like “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” with a bunch of grungy young people stuffed into a van in the middle of nowhere. Nowhere is in fact the Pacific Northwest and the young people are a punk rock group called “The Ain’t Rights.” They seem to be desperate for cash since they have to siphon gas just to get to where they need to go. They get pointed to a gig at a club in the middle of the woods that happens to be home to a bunch of skinheads. Next thing you know the entire group is stuck in the club’s green room after witnessing something they most definitely shouldn’t have seen. It quickly becomes band vs Nazis in a thrilling game of cat and mouse as the band attempts to survive the night.
I’m not really sure where exactly this movie came from but I’m glad it exists. It definitely feels inspired by films about kids getting lost in the woods and happening upon psychotic killers. The direction from Saulnier is proficient and even when the screenplay threatens to lag he mostly adds something shocking to the mix whether it’s an unexpected death or some disturbing ultra-violence. The actors are pretty fabulous here including standout Anton Yelchin as the band’s leader.
Punk rockers vs. white supremacists feels like reason enough to check out this film let alone the marquee name of Patrick Stewart, playing wildly against type, as the leader of the neo-Nazi group. It at least convinced one mildly disoriented theater goer where I saw the film to watch it for his name alone. A bold move considering the film’s shocking violence and disturbing story. If you know what you’re getting into it’s worth the wild ride. GRADE: B+
Trailer for Green Room on TrailerAddict.