Harrowing and disturbing, Green Room is a gripping movie that you will remember. Movies exploring skinhead/nazi/racist groups all approached this subject from different directions. And while Romper Stomper showed us how these gangs spend their daily lives, focusing on a more outlaw groups, American History X showed how they function in the urban environment. Green Room focuses an actual room, using the whole skinhead thing as the backdrop for its intense story.
This is a visceral thriller/horror with a very authentic and discomforting vibe. Director and writer Jeremy Saulnier (Murder Party, Blue Ruin) created a true masterpiece. I have been to a lot of concerts and gigs, many among them were underground venues featuring metal, punk and hardcore bands. And I can tell you they were just like the one here. Granted, the bands were never these nazi assholes. However, I know enough about the movement and the terminology to attest to the authenticity present in this movie.
Red laces gimmick is a perfect example. You get them if you attack or beat people up. Filmmakers didn’t dwell on the fact that they have done their research but used it passively as a part of a sub-plot. This is true for many aspects of this movie and I have huge respect for Saulnier and others for filming them this way. In case you’re wondering just what exactly is a green room, it’s a room where performers hang out before going on stage and after the gig. Shot two years before Anton Yelchin’s untimely death, I consider his performance one of the best. And a worthy farewell to this talented actor.
Ain’t Rights is a punk-rock band, currently touring Pacific Northwest. Strapped for cash, they are living the underground life, sleeping in a van and stealing gas. However, Pat, Sam, Reece and Tiger are loving this old school punk lifestyle while trying to make it in a scene saturated with new bands and technology. After a cancelled gig, they decide to accept an offer to play in a shady bar outside of Portland…
After this lengthy intro, let’s dive into the terror that is this movie. Green Room is one of the most uncomfortable and engaging movies I have ever seen. The atmosphere is heavy, realistic and the feeling of claustrophobia creeps into your room and your very soul. With a lot of graphic violence and powerful performances from the cast, it’s frighteningly immersive. And although it’s a thriller, I just had to put it into the horror category because it’s so fucking hard.
There is a decent amount of gore, but its impact is amplified by the harrowing realism that sucks you in and doesn’t let go. So be prepared for some really difficult scenes. Patrick Stewart found the script so terrifying that when he read it, he locked himself up in his house in England and started drinking scotch. And just the very fact that they got him as the main villain is so fucking cool. Character development was phenomenal and again done in such an unobtrusive way that it’s amazing how we got to know the gang through such a small series of events. Before they got into the green room.
And being set in a closed environment added another layer of intensity to the already thick atmosphere. The feeling that there’s no way out is very real and threatening, but if you dare to dive even deeper, things become even bleaker. Groups like this are active in a lot of countries and are on the rise, doing all kinds of shit in this corrupt and morally bankrupt world. I simply have to recommend that you check out this movie and try not to watch trailers or read about the story. Green Room works best if you know nothing about it. And finally: Nazi Punks Fuck Off.
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Writer: Jeremy Saulnier
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner, Imogen Poots, Macon Blair, Patrick Stewart, Eric Edelstein, David W. Thompson
Fun Facts: The Ain’t Rights songs are performed by the cast. Anton Yelchin and Alia Shawkat already knew how to play their instruments. However, according to Jeremy Saulnier, Callum Turner had no experience with any sort of music. Joe Cole also learned to play drums, specifically for this movie.