While watching Green Room during the Festival du Nouveau Cinema I felt like I was back at the Fantasia film festival. Green Room directed by Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Murder Party) is a great example of a high quality genre film. This comedic horror film is filled with funny lines, absurd situations and plenty of gore. Not for everyone, but will certainly be enjoyed by a certain audience.
After playing a gig in which they drove far out of their way and only earned $24, young punk band from Arlington, Virginia called Ain’t Rights is booked at a gig that will bring them a little more money. Tad (David W. Thompson – Win Win) feels guilty about booking Sam (Alia Shawkat – from television’s Arrested Development), Pat (Anton Yelchin – Star Trek, Terminator Salvation), Tiger (Callum Turner – Queen & Country), and Reece (Joe Cole – from television’s Peaky Blinders) for a dud of a gig, so gets his cousin to get them on the bill of a club outside of Portland.
Getting from gig to gig by siphoning gas from other cars, the members of Ain’t Rights are not about to let a paying gig pass them by, so instead of going home they drive to their next show. Once there they realize that the in middle of the forest bar is a real dive and a dangerous one that is frequented by Neo-Nazi skinheads. Ain’t Rights forges on despite the fact that during their first number, a Dead Kennedy’s cover, sees the supremacists spitting and throwing bottles at them. Eventually they win the demanding crowd over and get off the stage without any injuries.
It is back in the green room backstage in which trouble really begins. After getting paid and beginning to leave Sam realizes that she has forgotten her phone backstage. Pat goes back to get it and walks into the green room only to find the headlining band there with the body of a dead girl. Emily (Taylor Tunes – J. Edgar) is definitely dead with a knife protruding from her head. After an attempt to call 911 is interrupted and the band his held in the green room by stage manager Gabe (Macon Blair – Blue Ruins, Murder Party) and Big Justin (Eric Edelstein – Jurassic World, The Hills Have Eyes II).
Sensing that despite all the assurances otherwise by Gabe and then later by the bar owner, Darcy (Patrick Stewart – X-Men 2, Star Trek: First Contact), that their lives are in serious danger the members of Ain’t Rights and Emily’s friend, Amber (Imogen Poots – 28 Weeks Later, V for Vendetta) lock themselves in the green room while trying to come up with a way out of this with their lives.
Delightful to see Patrick Stewart playing against his usual type by being a baddie. A real baddie. Having him in the film will bring folks to see it and that is a good thing because this is a very entertaining film for those who can stomach the graphic violence and pints of blood spilled. There are slashings by machetes and throats torn out by vicious dogs as well as close ups of a couple of gruesome looking injuries.
Jeremy Saulnier really lulls you and fools you with the slow beginning. It turns out to be the right choice to start out this way as you get to know all the members of the punk band. When he starts with the gore and violence it is all in. Though this is a horror film Saulnier does try to stay away from the usual clichés. For the most part he is successful. Yes, there is the requisite cat-and-mouse aspect, but even that is rather unique. It has a fresh and original feel to it despite the fact that it is firmly and most definitely a horror pic.
The young cast all contribute to the high calibre of the film. All make their characters human, relatable and likable even for those who are not members of punk bands.
The soundtrack/score must also be mentioned. It is filled with loads of loud and crunching punk or hardcore music. Songs by Napalm Death, Slayer and Poison idea fill out the roster. That makes it all the more funny when the members of the punk band admit that their deserted island bands would include Madonna, Simon and Garfunkel and Prince.
The suspense is built aptly with the tight and original editing style adding plenty. There are a few small twists and unexpected moments that make things a fun roller coaster ride.