Monday, May 2, 2016

[Review] Green Room

A group of scrawny punk rock kids fighting their way out of a club full of neo-Nazis? Sir Patrick Stewart playing the villain? It's lit.

Green Room has been generating amp feedback for a while now, and it's finally gotten a fairly wide release. The film is the third feature from Jeremy Saulnier, the buzzing director of 2014's grisly Blue Ruin. And it's safe to say that this vicious thriller delivers on its promises.

Anton Yelchin and Alia Shawkat ("Arrested Development") play in a struggling hardcore band. They don't have enough gas money to make it home from their tour, so they desperately book a show in the backwoods--at a warehouse run by skinheads. Shortly after The Ain't Rights (that's their band name) set, they witness a murder backstage. When the venue's employees attempt to cover up the crime by calling in their menacing leader (played by Stewart), a hostile standoff ensues, and things go from bad to worse to frighteningly insane.

This film is quite frankly the epitome of "Well, that escalated quickly." It's a tense and brutal experience, not for the queasy or faint of heart. There's a lot blood here. Knives, bullets, and teeth penetrate flesh and bones, and it comes with gnarly close-ups of the aftermath. A point of no return arrives where Green Room aggressively delves into a helter-skelter war zone and fully embraces the carnage, even ushering in some slasher flick, "last one standing" vibes. Blue Ruin came with a lot of savagery, but that almost seems restrained compared to this.

The harsh ugliness is exquisitely framed with careful display of rich detail and brooding low-key lighting. A motif of fittingly green hues fill the screen throughout the duration (I wonder if Saulnier's next film will entail Red 'something'?). There's actually the slightest edge of self-aware humor to the tone, sort of in the same way that Tarantino or even the Coen Bros can pull off such hideous violence with a wink. My only wish is that Patrick Stewart's character had done a bit more than bark orders, but I suppose the guy didn't really need to get his own hands dirty. So it's not a major complaint.

Green Room might just be the most intricate, over-the-top warning about hitting the road as an amateur punk band.... Or simply that neo-Nazis are the worst. That seems more accurate.

* 9/10 *

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