0 comments 📅10 May 2016, 16:01


Green Room (Joe Cole)

stars 4

Release: 13 May 2016
Certificate: 18
Running time: 95 minutes
Writer/Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner, Imogen Poots, Macon Blair, Eric Edelstein, Patrick Stewart

“Shouldn’t we be panicking?” asks Amber (Imogen Poots), as she and Pat (Anton Yelchin) sit on a worn out sofa in the green room, with their wounds wrapped in duct tape.

Green Room (Anton Yelchin and Alia Shawkat)The Ain’t Rights are a four member punk band that include bass player Pat, drummer Reece (Joe Cole), guitarist Sam (Alia Shawkat) and singer Tiger (Callum Turner). Following an interview, they make up for a cancelled show by taking an impromptu gig at a remote venue in the backwoods of Oregon, led by neo-Nazis. “I’ve got a dumb idea,” says Pat before they go out, as they decide to perform an anti-fascist song. They get paid, but might not live long enough to spend the money they earned, as Pat heads back to the green room to collect a mobile phone only to witness a murder. Suddenly the group, along with fellow victim Amber, are held hostage by bouncer Justin (Eric Edelstein). The green room soon becomes their refuge as the venue’s owner, Darcy (Patrick Stewart), is consulted, turning their night into a fight for survival.

From writer/director Jeremy Saulnier, he follows Blue Ruin by taking the premise of Assault on Precinct 13, only to turn the location into a neo-Nazi club and make the main protagonists a punk band with no real survival skills to draw on (though twice, Pat recalls a paint-balling experience). These are essentially normal people out of their depth in an extreme situation. That they’re somewhat inept makes it a little easer for the majority of the audience to relate to them; since you can’t help but think that if you were in the same position, you probably wouldn’t fare very well either. Improvising with what they have around them, Saulnier limits their choice of weapons to the likes of tube lamps, a fire extinguisher and a mic stand, which makes for some creative set-pieces. Adding to the believability, even when they do upgrade to blades and guns, they’re not exactly skilled at using them.

Green Room manages to sustain interest with most of the running time spent in a single enclosed environment. Saulnier could have pushed this further by having the protagonists complain about the lack of a phone signal, but thankfully he avoids this cop out. You can also say goodbye to your fingernails as Saulnier skilfully ramps up the tension during numerous scenes, even crafting something as mundane as a guy emptying his pockets into a thrilling moment that’ll have you questioning, ‘What the hell are we going to find?’

Unfortunately there’s not a lot that really differentiates the members of the band itself. Cole’s Reece has a thing for MMA, while Tiger explores the possibility of trying to find his way out of the locked green room, but there’s little that stands out between them. We care about them, but only so far as knowing that they’re innocents that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Poots’ Amber leaves an impression due just how bluntly straightforward she is with her actions and when she talks. Patrick Stewart is devious and menacing as Darcy, merely through the surprisingly calm delivery of his words, scheming his way into making it look like The Ain’t Rights are the ones in the wrong.

Green Room (Patrick Stewart and Macon Blair)As the film unfolds, it is brutal and callous in its approach to certain characters being killed off very suddenly. You soon realise that Green Room is not going down a predictable path, to the point where you start to think that maybe no one is going to make it out alive. Be warned that this is not an easy one to sit through, with scenes of graphic violence involving blades, shotguns, a box cutter and pit bulls. High praise goes to Prosthetic Renaissance for their practical effects, which are frighteningly realistic enough to be a bit much for some moviegoers (two people during my screening actually walked out after that scene with a box cutter).

If you find the trailer too extreme, then either stay away, or consider it an invite; for Saulnier has delivered a survival horror film with ball-grabbing intensity that squeezes without remorse. Tense, exciting and raw, the reaction Green Room gets from a packed screening makes for the kind of cinema experience that few films can match.

Review by Shalimar Sahota

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