Notable Cast: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Patrick Stewart, Macon Blair, Mark Webber, Taylor Tunes, Eric Edelstein
Like most people that I’ve spoken with, my introduction to writer and director Jeremy Saulnier came with his critically acclaimed 2013 film Blue Ruin. While not directly horror in many regards, that film certainly left its mark in many ways and Saulnier almost instantly became one of the freshest voices in genre filmmaking. The film was so strong and so critically hailed that his follow up was almost guaranteed to be a film that met the unblinking and judging eyes of both critics and fans alike. So in a way, his latest film Green Room is going to disappoint on some level if it didn’t meet the sheer power and execution of Blue Ruin. To be upfront, it doesn’t and it’s hard to say that on some level I wasn’t slightly let down by Green Room too thanks to the lofty expectations I had going in. On the flip side though, the film is still a very effective and brutal horror thriller filled with tight tension and shockingly concussive twists that is going to please all genre fans on some level.
Pat (Yelchin) and his small punk band are all about the art of playing live. They refuse to have social media presence and rely on a network of fans and underground music lovers to help them book shows. When they end up playing at a bar owned and run by a close knit group of white supremacy believers and happen to see a murder on the premises, they will find themselves in a kill or be killed situation.
|Waiting...is not punk.
The one issue that arises from Green Room to prevent it from hitting the near perfect marks of Blue Ruin is the lacking connection the protagonists have with the audience. There are a lot of quirky elements at play to give them a more humanizing presence, including a game of ‘desert island band’ that comes back as a thread that really adds some nice depth to the film, but ultimately they still feel a bit too gimmicky and bland to be as relatable to the audience as they needed to be for the biggest emotional impact as shit hits the fan in the later acts. Pat, played by Yelchin who is seemingly making a huge mark on modern off beat film, gets the most depth, but his bandmates suffer from horror film clichés and are seemingly broad stroke characters meant for a bigger body count. At times the villains of the film come off as much more fascinating characters to explore instead of the people we are meant to root for. This might be one of the film’s best and worst aspects as it leaves the audience feeling a bit disconnected, but curious.
|He's gunning for kill. Get it? Cause...yeah. Just go with it.