At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Green Room

MPAA Rating: R/ Genre: Horror Thriller / Stars: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Patrick Stewart, Mark Webber, Eric Edelstein/ Runtime: 95 minutes

Green Room is a rather unique film; I say this because here is a film that finds its director, a Mr. Jeremy Saulnier, in a supremely confident mood. This is because this is a director who, back in 2013, gave audiences a stripped-down, taut, yet beguiling film called Blue Ruin that quickly established him as one of the most promising new American directors to watch. Thus I think it is safe to say that he deserves to be because with Green Room, Jeremy Saulnier sticks to his strengths as this is a movie that is sparse, and yet straight to the point and like a really good B-movie, unfolds in a gritty and concise manner with sudden gory but painfully realistic bursts of violence to jolt audiences into a frenzy. Yet even when it dovetails away from these fights, this film is just as compelling in how it moves the plot along and builds its tension and suspense to enjoyably unbearable levels and despite the similar style to Saulnier’s previous work, Green Room never feels tired. Instead the film serves as further, rousing proof of just how compelling and revelatory of a filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier is and simply put, Green Room is also terrific, and extremely potent storytelling period.

Now I can easily say with the utmost confidence that should you want to see this based off this review that you are honestly most likely better off knowing as little as possible about Green Room before you see it. If anything the only prior knowledge that you need is that you’re about to be taken on one of the most striking, whirlwind and honestly just downright brutal cinematic jaunts you have most likely ever seen, or will most likely ever see, in a long time. That being said if you wish to know what this movie is about before going into it just keep reading….

Still with me? Alright the plot is as follows: So we are introduced to a down on their luck punk rock band known as The Ain’t Rights who recently have found themselves in the process of finishing up a long and unsuccessful tour. In fact, if we are being honest, they about to call it quits when they, through a journalist that is interviewing them, get an unexpected booking at an extremely isolated, and slightly run-down club, that is owned by, operated by, and has a patron population, that are white supremacists, deep in the backwoods of Oregon. What starts out as just seemingly being a third-rate gig to earn some quick yet desperately-needed cash terrifyingly escalates into something much more sinister however when they witness the aftermath of a vicious murder backstage that they weren’t meant to see and soon find themselves trapped backstage plus having to face off against the club’s depraved owner, a Darcy Banker (Stewart), who is a man who will do absolutely anything to protect the secrets of his nefarious enterprise and his equally as vicious gang of henchmen. Yet while Darcy and his henchmen think the band will be easy to get rid of, The Ain’t Rights, with the help of a young woman who is trapped backstage with them, soon prove themselves much more cunning and capable than anyone expected and with that the stage is soon set for the ultimate life-or-death showdown….

Now Jeremy Saulnier has been vocal about how Green Room reflects his own past in the DC punk scene and after having watched the movie I can say that he does a very good job drawing from those memories of when he was part of that scene as the story really truly builds in a fantastic and organic fashion that strongly suggests it has come from a mind that knows this world incredibly well. Indeed it is almost as if this is a story that just festered, entertained, and then ultimately grew in Jeremy Saulnier’s mind as he tediously waited in countless green rooms before he performed over the years. Also this movie does a fantastically subversive job in how it allows the plot to truly form and develop as the film goes along yet at the same time also managing to keep you on your toes, as well as laugh, wince, and even be downright shocked when you least expect it and the film repeatedly keeps raising the stakes in order to showcase to each and every one of us in the audience just how drastic and intense and horrifying this situation has become. Indeed this is honestly one of the main reasons the film works as well as it does and that’s because you truly get to witness just how out of their depth and timid the band truly are against this gang of honestly quite disturbingly professional and seasoned white supremacists. Thus you find your mind constantly trying to imagine a solution to just how in the holy hell they are going to get out of this increasingly bleak and deadly scenario alive yet as the screws holding the plot together begin to tighten you find yourself horrifyingly unable to form an answer.

Now this is a film where honestly there is not a single weak performance as truly all the performances in this film are strong especially the three names seen on most of the posters and promotional bits starting with Anton Yelchin who, after his subtle turns as Kyle Reese and Chekov in Terminator Salvation and the new Star Trek movies respectively, unleashes his inner bad-ass here. Indeed although Anton’s character is soft-spoken throughout this he nevertheless can truly kick some ass with the best of them when the situation is grim enough (and trust me this definitely qualifies), Imogen Poots who, after the hilarious 90’s movie brought to the 21st century that was Need for Speed, showcases her inner punk and badass here as well plus she really truly does possess what has to be one of the most curious arcs in the entire film as she slowly but surely makes the move from being the outsider and wildcard that she is when we first meet her to proving her worth and showing that when the situation calls for her to get bloody boy can she ever to the point that some people lose their stomach when they witness just what she’s capable of (literally) and Patrick Stewart who honestly, and for reasons I still have yet to figure out because of how much of a damn good job he does, honestly does not get to play a bad guy all that often. Indeed much like Ben Kingsley showed us in Iron Man 3 or Cary Elwes in Ella Enchanted, this is a Brit who can turn on the bad when given a truly out-of-left-field role like this and Stewart is an absolute marvel to watch as we get to see him leave his Captain Picard and Professor Xavier nice guy persona at the door and instead give us a character that truly is an amoral, vicious, and just plain dark as hell bastard who sees no problems with what he’s doing and who by equal turns attempts to soothe his captives while at the same time engage in a football-like huddle with his thugs in search of the best way to slaughter these troublesome kids and then stage their deaths somewhere far away. Indeed while he may not qualify for ‘pure evil’ status he is still most definitely the wheel that turns the gears of this movie as the situation at hand begins to bottom out for our poor survivors.

All in all though Green Room is a smart and scary grindhouse flick, an exhilarating throwback to midnight movies and an instant cult film in the making all rolled into one amazingly done film. Indeed despite the brutality and depravity being displayed on screen I promise that you will find that you really truly want to watch this film again as soon as the screen cuts to black and the credits begin to roll. On a scale of 1-5 I give Green Room a solid 4 out of 5.