Verdict: “Green Room” delivers spine tingling intensity through carefully calibrated bouts of horrific violence. It’s awesome.
Jeremy Saulnier’s got the goods when it comes to excruciatingly stressful bloodbaths. If you’ve seen his last film, the delightfully slow-burn revenge flick “Blue Ruin”, you know what I mean. “Green Room” is more of the same, in the best way possible. It delivers spine tingling intensity through its careful spacing of horrifying violence and build up.
“Green Room”’s amazing logline reads “Members (Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat) of a punk-rock band and a tough young woman (Imogen Poots) battle murderous white supremacists at a remote Oregon roadhouse.” Yeah, I know, nothing that sounds this amazing can really be this amazing, but praise be to Saulnier, “Green Room” totally is.
To be a little more specific, the band is called the Ain’t Rights, made up of Yelton, Shawkat (yes, Maeby from “Arrested Development!”), Callum Turner and Joe Cole. They’re touring the Northwest in a decrepit van by syphoning gas out of random cars, and in an interview with a young journalist, we learn they don’t do social media and they prefer to share their music face to face.
They can maybe be construed as annoying in a certain light, music purists with a little lawbreaker in them, but what do you expect from punk rockers? Besides, it’s easy to get behind their loyalty to each other and the purity of Punk, and they’re do-gooders when it comes to the big stuff. Their trouble beginning when Yelton witnesses a murder and calls the cops. The big baddies here are their hosts, led by stony eyed club owner Darcy (Patrick Stewart) and his dedicated follower Gabe (Veteran Saulnier actor Macon Blair).
The film’s as tight and chaotic as the (sparsely used) punk jams the Ain’t Rights love. See: the Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks F**k Off,” the anti-white supremacist anthem the Ain’t Rights cheekily open their show with. The movie only occasionally takes on the song’s succinct calamity, spacing those moments out between long stresses of uncertainty and plotting. The build up pays off, every scene tortuous to the point that I wouldn’t advise more than one watch in a week. This much stress for too long will give you ulcers.
Saulnier uses violence sparingly, more an ante-upper than gore-porn. There are gross moments for sure, mostly thanks to some hungry fighting dogs, but it’s not a straight up blood bath. In a notable example, Saulnier lets a brutal hacking happen behind a closed door, showing us only the aftermath. It’s horrific and stressful, and a testament to the carefully calibrated balance of slowly building stress and disgusting imagery that propels the film.
All in all, “Green Room” is a freakin’ rush. It’s painful, physically hurts to watch, but if you’re in the mood for a heart-pounding takedown of tried and true Nazi Punks, hit this up. It won’t disappoint.