The third feature film from Blue Ruin director Jeremy Saulnier is a contained, intense and graphically violent thriller.
“The Ain’t Rights” are a very minor punk band who accept a gig on short notice in a venue which turns out to be a remote neo-nazi skinhead bar. After the show, one of the band members, Pat, played by Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Terminator Salvation) returns to the green room to retrieve a forgotten mobile phone and sees a murdered woman lying on the floor. Soon, the band (which also features Alia Shawkat of Arrested Development fame) are locked in the green room by the club’s bouncers and it becomes obvious that the neo-nazis intend on killing the band as witnesses to the murder. The band have no choice but to fight their way out of the green room and the venue while the neo-nazi leader, Patrick Stewart (and there’s a sentence I never expected to type) tries to manage the situation and ensure the band can be killed in a way he can easily cover up.
Perhaps a better way of describing the violence would be ‘truly nasty’. But while there is plenty of gore, Saulnier doesn’t dwell on it, it’s more to shock than repulse and nor does it feel gratuitous – it makes sense in the small, contained world of the film. Its use of brutal violence reminds of Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s home invasion horror You’re Next, if the tone is certainly thriller rather than horror. There is also a welcome streak of black comedy running through Green Room which stops it becoming scene after scene of bloodshed on bloodshed.
It’s not unfair to say that outside of Yelchin and perhaps Poots, there is a lack of characterisation among our young heroes, the end result being that while the violence might make you to wince, you don’t really care who it’s happening to. Macon Blair’s turn as the put-upon club owner is worth a mention though; he manages to be menacing and yet almost sympathetic with a performance which suggests depth to character that might otherwise have been absent.
The Verdict: Saulnier delivers a compact and brutally violent thriller. While it might not leave any lasting impression, fans of You’re Next and those who like their brutality tempered with dark comedy would do well to check it out.