Tension is the order of the day in Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room when a Punk Rock band find themselves at the mercy of a group of Neo-Nazis after witnessing something they shouldn’t.
Tiger (Callam Turner), bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin), guitarist Sam (Alia Shawkat) and drummer Reece (Joe Cole) are the members of the band and the main characters. Each of them are developed enough to have a personality that makes them rise above the expendable fodder that makes up the cast of films like this.
The whole situation starts off innocently enough with the band heading to a venue to play a gig and make enough money to buy fuel to get to the next place. They are a group of people who have given up a life of comfort in pursuit of their dream. It’s clear that they are happy with their decision and the transient lifestyle appeals to them. This means that going to play a venue in the middle of nowhere isn’t all that unusual for them.
It doesn’t take long for things to get disastrously out of hand when the film essentially turns into a siege story. The band along with another wayward straggler named Amber (Imogen Poots) are stuck in the titular Green Room as the Neo-Nazis try to get them to come out of hiding.
It’s really tense throughout with lots of chaotic scenes of the group of characters trying to survive as they are slowly and violently picked off during their various escape attempts. It’s a very violent film with a lot of disturbing imagery and the situation is a terrifying one to watch.
This film could so easily have been a ridiculous and gratuitous gore fest but it rises above that because all of the characters are fleshed out and there’s genuine concern over what happens to them. When they are picked off it means something and the jeopardy is firmly established when it is made clear that none of them are safe. It never lets the foot off the breaks in creating tension and the whole thing is riveting throughout.
Anton Yelchin’s Pat takes much of the focus here and he proves to be more than up to the task. I’ve always thought that he had great range but he hasn’t been in enough films to really show it. This film gives him plenty of opportunities to be brave, terrified and intelligent. There is no point where he isn’t believable and he has good chemistry with the rest of the cast.
Imogen Poots’ Amber also gets a lot of screentime and it’s a good role for her. She is certainly believable as someone who is resourceful and capable of pushing her morality to the side in order to simply survive. A lot of the characters are tested in different ways and her journey is a great example of this.
The Neo-Nazis are led by the villainous Darcy (Patrick Stewart) and it’s an incredible departure for the actor who has never played a role quite like this in cinema before. He projects intelligence and malevolence to a terrifying degree and always seems calmly in control of the situation. The way he shifts tones throughout the film makes him even scarier as he comes across as a reasonable man who only wants the situation resolved but is able to instantly shift into an uncompromising tyrant. I’ve always wanted to see Patrick Stewart play a villainous role and now that I have seen it I find myself unsettled by the prospect.
As the film approaches the ending it shifts gears into being more subdued and far less chaotic than the rest of the running time. The ending doesn’t quite work because of this and the whole thing ends with something of a whimper. It doesn’t massively bring the film down but the narrative lent itself to a more climactic ending and a neater resolution. I imagine it will work for some people but I was expecting more from it by the end.
It’s a hard film to talk about in a review as I genuinely feel that it should be experienced to get the full effect. There’s no way I can do the visceral terror justice in a review and I don’t really want to spoil the experience for anyone. If you take anything away from what I’ve written then make it that this is definitely worth seeing, especially if you’re a fan of Star Trek and you have a desire to never look at Captain Picard in the same way again.
An excellent and visceral experience with well developed characters and a wonderful grasp of tension. Patrick Stewart is brilliant playing against type as an evil man and the whole situation never stops being compelling. The ending is comparatively weaker than the rest of it but not enough to derail the experience by any stretch. It can’t be done justice by a review so I would recommend you see this one and experience it for yourself.
- a wonderful grasp of tension
- well developed characters
- Patrick Stewart’s terrifying performance
- a slightly anticlimactic ending in comparison