Cinema-released 18-rated films are very rare thing these days.
Most horror films, with their OTT effects and huge budgets, I guess they don’t want to shut out a large proportion of the cinema-going public. Green Room’s only special effects are of the spurting blood variety and they are used sparingly and the film is all the better for such restraint.
Green Room starts off as something of a punk rock tour movie. It reminded me of Another State Of Mind as it was filled with authentic DIY attitudes from The Ain’t Rights – the band at the centre of the film – and references to many punk legends through stickers, posters and T-shirts.
A gig for the “boots and braces crowd” in the middle of nowhere turns decidely nasty when a band member stumbles upon the aftermath of a murder. From here on in, director and writer Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin) ratchets up the tension and builds a very claustrophobic atmosphere where the audience genuinely doesn’t know what will happen next.
Deliverance and Assault On Precinct 13 have been mentioned as reference points by some, replace the Hillbillies of the former with Nazi skinheads and they’re not that wide of the mark. The main difference is Green Room is much more graphic, with sporadic bursts of bone-crunching violence, which, shocking as it is, does help the story move forward and ups the tension levels even higher.
Patrick Stewart plays the club owner, Nazi leader and all-round bad guy with an understated performance that paints a picture of a very cold, calculated and controlling villain. In the context of the claustrophobia of the rest of the film, this works very well. He almost has an air of paranoia around him, something which comes across as well-founded as the plot develops. Who can he really trust?
Stewart’s skinheads have a cult-like feel to them and this inscestuous attitude from the gang members also adds to the band’s terror as they try desperately to escape the scene of the crime. While the film can be described as a “slow-burner”, this doesn’t mean it’s dull – the air of menace is always present and the tension just increase as the movie develops. It’s intelligence and flawless acting mean there are no unnecessary distractions from the compelling tension that pins the film together.
Green Room featured at last year’s Cannes and received a limited release shortly afterwards. It has just received a wider cinema release (May 13, 2016). It also features Alia Shawkat (playing a musician for the second time after staring in The Runaways) and Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Fright Night) and I really can’t fault it. It will appeal to both horror and thriller fans, as well as, although not exclusively, punk fans too. The film has been released with very little fanfare and it deserves to be seen.