Green Room Review
Does the name Jeremy Saulnier mean anything to you? If not, it totally should. Because he'll be a name you will definitely hear from time to time once people start lending their eyes to "Green Room." Jeremy Saulnier is known for making "Blue Ruin," a revenge thriller you can currently find on Netflix. But the thing about "Blue Ruin" is that its not your typical revenge thriller. Instead of making a similar movie we have seen countless times before, Jeremy studies the need to extract revenge, then the repercussions of such an act that can follow and the revelation that revenge can lead us somewhere overwhelming. Its momentous work for a first-timer and shows expert panache in the industry.
Now, Saulnier has made "Green Room," a siege horror film. We have seen many of these before too, the siege film is quite familiar. If you've seen the first "Purge," movie. If you've seen "Assault on Precinct 13" or "Dawn of the Dead," or "The Mist" or "From Dusk Till Dawn" then you have seen a siege horror movie. Its a style of film that is just as ordinary as revenge thrillers. But as Saulnier did with "Blue Ruin," he twists our expectations with "Green Room."
A punk band called the Ain't Rights are comprised of Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Joe Cole) and Tiger (Callum Turner). They've been on the road for gigs which has, lets say, gone less than great. They use a contact named Tad (David Thompson) to find gigs and they are coming up short. After a particularly bad night, Tad brings up a club deep in the backwoods of Oregon. The Ain't Rights take the gig, knowing full well that this club is run and promotes white supremacy. After the night begins badly, on the band's behalf lets say, the Ain't Rights are able to turn the crowd back to liking them and the rest of the night goes well. Its only when Sam forgets a her phone and Pat is nice enough to go back to the band's green room to see something he should not have seen that things finally go bad. When they go bad, things get bad quick and just as you think the movie is going to create a sense of security, "Green Room" pulls back and makes you realize anything can happen at any time.
Oh yes. While watching a Saulnier movie, I am starting to notice that things don't happen as we expect, and that's the rug. Violence occurs so quickly and so matter-of-factly that you get the sense that anything can happen at any time. Characters you think are safe may end up dying quick. Our heroes are smart, but the bad guys are smart too, which leads to a whole world of possibility. The band gets held up in their green room as the club owner calls Darcy (Patrick Stewart), who plans to find an end to this problem, no matter what. Darcy is a villain that is constantly cunning, constantly ten steps ahead of any situation. No wonder Stewart landed the role and he gives one of the best performances of his career. The band isn't by themselves, they do have help from Amber (Imogen Poots), who was also in the wrong place at the wrong time and is forced to help the band survive the night. No matter what the band does, they are crippled by bad decision after bad decision and it gets to the point of when and why do you stop fighting for yourself.
The cast is pretty solid across the board. Yelchin shows us how much we lost by his accidental death roughly a month ago, giving a potent and rousing performance. Shawkat, Cole and Turner are all actors you may recognize, but all give wonderful performances throughout. But the secret weapon is Imogen Poots. If you don't know her name, you may remember her from somewhere if you Google her name. She's an actress that leaves a mark wherever she goes, but somehow isn't a full-fledged star yet. I can say that it was her character that delighted me and surprised me the most and Poots paints a portrait of somebody who isn't going to give up on themselves.
I also have to make a special mention of the make-up department here. Anybody working in the business can create a startling image with make-up, but it is rare when a make-up effect is so grand that leads you to have a visceral reaction. Something that will give you a long lasting effect for quite some time. I have to say that the make-up effects in this movie are beyond impressive and elevate the material to a place I didn't think possible.
Studios everywhere better start their engines, because Saulnier is proving that he's ready for a franchise and whomever nabs him is going to great by a wonderful, up-and-coming talent. But I hope he doesn't become a corporate tool. I hope Saulnier continues to tweak at genre's and signing his uniquely brutal signature on his own personal work every few years. "Green Room" is so powerful for a such an up-and-comer that its almost scary.
FINAL GRADE: A