‘Green Room’ is a masterfully constructed horror-thriller that will shock and make you cringe from the real world visceral violence that surrounds these characters.
This is director and writer Jeremy Saulnier’s follow up from ‘Blue Ruin’, (which can be seen on Netflix) a story about vengeance. ‘Blue Ruin’ had much more locations than ‘Green Room’. Jeremy Saulnier wanted to focus on one location which apart from the prior set up he does. I was intrigued by the idea that most of the film would take place in one room and not much else, and how much he would stick to that concept and how successful it would be. While I am happy to say that most of the film does take place in the green room we do leave it from time to time. Now this is not a negative but I was very intrigued to see how far that concept could have been taken successfully which disappointed me slightly.
A broke band ‘The Ain’t Rights’ are desperate for a gig and end up at a neo-Nazi dive bar. The atmosphere when they arrive is palpable and chilling. They survive their set but just before they are about to leave they witness something they were not supposed to. They are threatened back into the green room where the tension really kicks it up a notch. The band are trapped with a regular of the bar armed with a high powered pistol with five cartridges. The plot fills you with dread, horror and violence that has never felt so brutal and realistic. What is really interesting about ‘Green Room’ is that it isn’t about the plot or characters that keeps you engaged, it is what is happening on the screen in that moment. That is also where the film lacks though. I didn’t feel like the characters or history of the location was clear enough to really get a hold of, which did make my experience a slightly confused one at times. I also feel they missed a trick in the second act that I cannot believe they did not capitalise on. Turned out I was terrified for no reason and that just didn’t make sense to me. It was perfectly set up.
I have never seen a film I would classify as a horror-thriller before but ‘Green Room’ has both elements of the tension of thriller and the progression of a horror film that it’s impossible to identify it as anything else. I can’t wait to see more of this genre by this director and others.
The directing in this film is gorgeous. All the cinematography is really claustrophobic and close up which really adds to the mood and objective of the scene. The green room is filled with graffiti that fits the location perfectly and the cinematography perfectly displays this in the background so you really feel where you are.
No one gives a bad performance here. Patrick Stewart as the owner of the bar is by far the standout with a performance unlike something we have ever seen from him before. Every time he speaks you could be speaking to someone who wants to help you or kill you, and he walks that line perfectly. Anton Yelcin delivers the strongest performance of the band while the others are ok. The supporting cast includes Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner, David W. Thompson and Mark Webber. But again this issue is more to do with the writing than their performances. The pace doesn’t allow for much character development so it’s understandable why but there needed to be a little more than is currently there. You can see character interactions that present themselves the way friends would communicate to each other, but it’s not fleshed out enough to matter much or for you to even care and connect with it. I applaud them for sticking to a 90-minute running time and not padding the film, but 10 minutes could have been added for character development and would have greatly improved your connection and empathy with the characters.
The more I thought about ‘Green Room’ the more I wanted to watch it again and see how much more information I could gather about the neo-Nazi’s and the band, which is definitely a positive. I just wish I felt I knew enough the first time round while still leaving more intrigue for a second viewing.
I really hope that doesn’t dissuade you from seeing ‘Green Room’ though. Indies like this are rare and its infinitely refreshing to see a film that is nothing like its mainstream competition. The brutality, shocks, tension and realistic violence also make it easy for repeated viewings to consistently entertain you.
‘Green Room’ is a flawed but brilliantly bone chilling and entertaining horror-thriller that will stay with you and be hungry for more from the genre.