One word for Green Room; brutal. So incredibly brutal. Even my tough stomach was churning through this 80s B-Grade inspired horror. The premise is straight forward enough, a punk band called The Ain’t Rights score a gig in an underground neo-nazi bar. Post performance, they stumble across a grizzly scene – a bunch of hillbilly skinheads in a dark dank room, with a dead body between them. The band are barricaded in the room with the victim’s friend Amber (Imogen Poots) and bouncer Big Justin (Eric Edelstein), and they rapidly find themselves caught in a cat and mouse game with the bar owner, Darcy (Patrick Stewart) – who will go to any lengths to cover his criminal tracks.
It is difficult to say which genre this film belongs in. It’s not your typical horror, it’s not scary on a fantasy level, but it is terrifying in a realistic sense. And the violence – I haven’t seen violence quite like this since Drive (2011), and I was one of many people in the cinema loudly expressing my discomfort. But is the film actually any good? Read on.
There should be two warnings issued prior to seeing this film. 1) Be prepared for gore. And not the kind of gore where you squirm, laugh and secretly love the playful uneasiness it’s conceiving, but really prepare yourself for unthinkable violence. It’s gruesome and spine-chilling. 2) Try not to read up on this film at all. It’s one of those gems where knowing little about it will work in your favour. I knew nothing about Green Room, and I really believe it paid off going in blind.
One of my pet-peeves when it comes to violence in films, is using violence when it’s not warranted. Gore for the sake of gore is useless in my opinion, and the end result is basically torture porn (every filmmaker should take a leaf out of Tarantino’s book when it comes to film violence). Green Room uses violence, even at its most extreme, but it is relevant to the story. The four band members Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Tiger (Callum Turner) and Reece (Joe Cole) use what is necessary to fight off Darcy’s henchmen.
Director Jeremy Saulnier has exceeded expectations since his thriller Blue Ruin hit the indie circuit in 2013. Green Room is a tight, ultra-violent suspense ride that does its job in keeping you physically uncomfortable for its 90 minute duration. The cinematography is dark and grimy, just like its subject matter, and the performances (mainly by the young cast) are fantastic. The fear, vulnerability and realistic youthful humour conveyed by the young actors is spot on. And Imogen Poots almost steals the show with a surprising turn as a moody punk-rocker caught in the middle.
Unfortunately though, the film falls short in the characterisation of the antagonists. The excitement of seeing Patrick Stewart finally playing a bad guy (and I mean a REALLY bad guy) is short-lived. His performance is fine, however the screenplay failed to develop his character just that little more. I was hoping to feel the same discomfort created by Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men, but it never really came to fruition.
All in all though, Green Room is a gruesome and enjoyable ride (if ultra-violence is up your alley). It was fun to see it in a cinema full of slasher fans who made it no secret how jittery they were. Definitely check it out if you’re brave enough.
Green Room is screening exclusively at Cinema Nova from May 12th.
About Emily Komiyama
Half Australian/Japanese cinephile. Screenwriter. International Film Festival Winner. Lover of film, food and Netflix. Emily spends her days teaching coffee-making and latte art. As well as daydreaming that Bill Murray will one day invite her over for a Suntory Whiskey.
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