Hot Take: Pure tension and paranoia. Sitting in the theater was uneasy and I was glad to be sitting with my back against the wall.
A small time touring punk-rock band is going to land some shitty gigs. This is reality for any small time band, really. It’s hard to imagine a shittier gig than a deep woods dance hall for white supremacist neo-Nazis in the heart of the Pacific Northwest. However, now, thanks to Green Room, you don’t have to. After the band performs and heads out, they walk in on a murder scene and the punk rockers turned witnesses are thrown into a brutal, suspenseful fight for their life as they seemingly wait for the police but soon find out they’ll be lucky to make it out alive.
There’s not much else to Green Room. It’s a fairly simple set-up in the first act that thrusts the movie into a high tension, paranoid thriller that’s basically Punk-Rockers vs. Neo-Nazis the rest of the way. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as director Jeremy Saulnier does tense thrills well. If you can ignore the plot holes and focus on the twists and turns of the tense moments, you’ll be better off. Try not to get caught up with figuring why this band is in the Northwest but from the East Coast. Don’t get hung up thinking about how many times the Aryan group led by Patrick Stewart’s Darcy is taking out witnesses to unspeakable crimes as they seem somewhat prepared for cleaning up the mess. Don’t dwell on the fact that despite their preparedness, their ineffective execution seems present only as a necessary plot driver rather than a realistic occurrence.
Your time will be better spent getting caught up in the terror and paranoia of being trapped in a room while a hate group conspires to kill you. Spoiler alert: Almost no one survives the night. Saulnier takes out the cast with reckless abandon. There’s more debatable issues throughout the intensity as characters make questionable decisions (it’s rare to see a horror/thriller where the characters aren’t harmed due to their own poor decisions though) and Stewart’s presence feels more like a grab for attention. However, the gruesome thrills and claustrophobic paranoia are well crafted and grant some forgiveness for everything else.
The one thing Green Room does is create more interest for Saulnier’s Blue Ruin from 2013. It’s apparently a hidden gem that I admittedly haven’t seen but Green Room does enough to put Blue Ruin on the “must see” radar. The film never feels like a complete success but it does enough to get at least a head nod of approval rather than a round of applause.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Premise
Small bands play shitty gigs and are so excited to be getting paid a few hundred bucks, they’ll go out into the middle of nowhere surrounded by Neo-Nazis.
- The Tone
Even with all of the issues I had bouncing around in my head with the story and the way it was playing out, the dark, jarring tone was enveloping to the point where I was a little uncomfortable sitting in a dark theater around strangers.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Wasting Picard
The against type casting of Stewart felt like a waste. He was adequate as the leader of the Neo-Nazi group but it felt more like it was done for attention than he was the best guy for the part.
- Why Couldn’t You Bury the Lede?
There’s a moment early in the film that gives away a lot. You may or may not catch it but if you do, let’s hope it doesn’t irritate you as much.