Running Time: 94 mins
Reviewer: David Gillespie – HCF Official Artist and Reviewer
Some horror movies have a certain energy and glint in their eye that has them catapult themselves above much of the mediocre offerings that latch onto whatever idea is fashionable or likely to attract the attention of the popcorn chomping teenage market. Green Room has director Jeremy Saulnier deliver something far more interesting. We get a fast moving, brutal, viciously funny and highly original survival horror set in a manky, isolated nightclub with a hardcore punk soundtrack thrown into the mix. More importantly, we get Patrick Stewart as the blood thirsty, bad-ass boss.
A struggling, young punk band called The Ain’t Rights are coming to the end of a long and disappointing tour when they receive a chance booking at a rough but busy club deep in the backwoods of Oregon. Having performed an ear shredding set to an unforgiving and rowdy group of skinheads and rednecks, they stomp offstage and accidentally walk in on an execution of a young woman by one of the club’s bouncers. The manager is called to the scene and locks the startled band members in the room with the body, her killer, another bouncer and a stoned crowd member called Amber (Imogen Poots). Things turn from bad to worse for the band members when the shady owner, Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart) arrives to slaughter the witnesses and protect his criminal operation. He has backup, weapons and a pack of blood thirsty dogs while the The Ain’t Rights only have a gun, a hostage and a lock seperating them from certain death. With no one coming to rescue them in any hurry, it is going to be the band’s final encore?
Green Room is a breath of fresh air for the horror market. It is lean, violent, stylish and fantastic fun. It has a host of young talent, including Anton Yelchin (Chekov from Star Trek) and Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development), whose characters you are routing for and hoping will make it through to the bitter end. Yet it becomes apparent very few or none will make it due to the incredible odds they are up against. We have an assortment of obnoxious villains that change sides and have ulterior motives as to why they should harm or possibly help the terrified youths. However it is Stewart that elevates proceedings to the next level. He drips menace without ever having to overact or lose control. The old pro is simply the epitome of evil. Watching him calmly convince the youngsters to unlock the door and let him unleash the inevitable on them is as compelling as it is terrifying.
The story is full of false hopes, twists and one of the most incredible head shot wounds you’ll likely ever see in a film. One arm breaking sequence had the audience yell in disbelief and repulsion. The makeup and sound effects for the duration are really quite incredible. There are wonderfully subtle moments including a dog rushing to mourn the death of its slaughtered master rather than attack the person who killed him. I loved the idea of using the feedback of amps as a weapon to repel the dog attacks also.
Saulnier seems to be an old head on young shoulders. This is the work of an experienced and highly talented film-maker that knows how to press all the right buttons to get the audience eating out of his hands. I didn’t want it to end, it has an urgency to deliver and make its mark. The young director has created a film that keeps on giving by exciting, shocking, amusing and horrifying its audience. You’ll likely not have more fun watching a film in 2016.