(Written Initially way before the death of Yelchin in real life, may he rest in peace)
Green Room is a vicious thriller that thrives on performance and it’s ability to build tension.
Green Room is loosely described as a horror thriller that leans toward thriller. We start as a small punk band the Ain’t Rights on tour meets with a local venue guy. After playing a shit room and finding they don’t have money to get to the next spot they get the local guy to find them another show. He comes back with a show in a Nazi bar in the middle of woods.
From there it quickly goes from being a movie about an intentionally under the radar punk band, trying so hard to be indy that they don’t use social media to a perfect castle defense movie. Obviously, it doesn’t start out completely terrible, none of the band members look like Nazi targets and they don’t do badly on stage. That is until they decide to play a hyper-speed version of “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”.
From there we descend into chaos, as the trailer reveals someone dies in The Green Room and the Ain’t Rights instantly become witnesses. Herein we see the danger build. The band is left alone in the room with a friend of the woman who was murdered. We are left to assume this other woman played by Imogen Poots is also a Nazi. A guard named Big Justin played by Eric Edelstein is left there and acts to further amp the tension. We follow the Gabe the head bouncer played by Macon Blair, as he talks to Darcy played by Patrick Stewart and we learn the band’s fate before they do. More is added, Darcy calling on his attack dog trainer to get their available dogs ready and closing the club early to eliminate dissenting witnesses.
We follow the Gabe the head bouncer played by Macon Blair, as he talks to Darcy played by Patrick Stewart and we learn the band’s fate before they do. More is added like Darcy calling on his attack dog trainer to get all their available dogs ready and closing the club early to eliminate dissenting witnesses. Every minute we see the odds stack against the Ain’t Rights while back in the room the discomfort and anxiety of the situation causes an eventual revolt against Big Justin.
The genuine tension of being surrounded by enemies makes every decision in Green Room vital. The fact that our punk band friends are forced to take the defense with a regular at the Nazi club only amps the tension. The entire time every member of the band either vocally or physically expresses distrust. This allows what could easily be a second antagonist to be a well of information and strategy.
Everything great about this comes from Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin, and the other actors. Stewart brings such a gravity and power while simply whispering. His calm and very real evil played against Yelchin’s dry terror while trying not to loose it, is so perfect. Every other performance makes sense and every reaction natural which only makes it more gut wrenching.
“Gentlemen, I hope you appreciate the situation. Things have gone south. No doubt. Now, whatever you saw, or did, is no longer my concern. But let’s be clear, it won’t end well.” –Patrick Stewart as Darcy
The great achievement of Green Room is that it remains difficult from beginning to end. Surviving the night only becomes even more impossible as the graphic but well-done deaths pile up more bodies.
Green Room is terror-inducing and sickening at times but is also fun ride that will never feel old. In between graphic dismemberment comes well timed and earned humor and genuine character moments. Yelchin and the rest of his band played by Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, and Callum Turner feel like a punk band with traditions and weird little ticks. Ticks so specific that they really sell the movie. The same can be said of Nazi characters, Stewart doesn’t stop being utterly intimidating even when this film ends. You can tell, even the most imposing of the other Nazis are terrified.
Do not watch Green Room for just the violence or just the performances, watch it because it feels so singular that if a lesser director other than Jeremy Saulnier made Green Room it would not work. Watch because the little niches along the American Road are terrifying, watch because hopefully you never find yourself trapped in The Green Room.