Written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, Green Room is the story of a hardcore punk band who find themselves playing a gig at a place that is the base for a group of neo-Nazi skinheads who go after them after the band had witnessed a murder. The film is an unconventional thriller where a group of people try to escape and fight against a hate group who want them dead. Starring Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner, and Joe Cole. Green Room is a gripping yet intense film from Jeremy Saulnier.
The film revolves around a hardcore punk band who take a gig at neo-Nazi club unaware of what it is only to witness a murder as all hell breaks loose forcing them to try and survive this group of neo-Nazi skinheads. It’s a film that takes a simple premise but with an air of intrigue and terror as much of the story is set in a room where a hardcore punk band, a young woman, and a bouncer they’ve held hostage is in the room along with a dead body while its owner and his band of hooligans try to break in. Jeremy Saulnier’s screenplay follows this hardcore punk band in the Ain’t Rights as they are traveling through the Pacific Northwest on tour as stopped to do a radio interview and a gig which was unfortunately cancelled because of screw-ups by promoters forcing a local radio host to call his cousin who works at a club outside Portland to get the band a gig.
Although the band realize the audience is a neo-Nazi group, they still play and find a way to piss them off unaware of what is happening behind the scenes at the green room where the headlining band is at. Slaunier’s script doesn’t just play into what happened but also what the club owner Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart) is hiding as he’s a dangerous yet calm man that is trying to handle the situation without any real trouble. Still, he has a group of people that will take care of things if needed to as they have weapons and attack dogs with the people in the green room having little to fight back with.
Saulnier’s direction is definitely mesmerizing for the way he creates the air of tension and terror that looms throughout the film where much of its second and third act is set inside the green room. Shot on location in Portland, Oregon with additional locations in Astoria as well as scenes shot at the Mount Hood National Forest. Saulnier’s direction doesn’t go for a lot of wide shots except in getting a look at the locations yet much of his direction is intimate in its usage of close-ups and medium shots in playing to the atmosphere of the club as well as the tension that goes on inside the green room. Especially as it has this air of claustrophobia where you have the band, the friend of the dead young woman, and a bouncer who had a gun only to be overpowered by the band while outside of the green room is Darcy and his gang. Even as the band try to get out of the green room through other means of searching the room as well as discover something underneath the green room that is even more disturbing as it relates to the area the club is set in. The scenes outside the club where Darcy and his followers are trying to get things ready as well as make a discovery about one of their own add to the intrigue.
Saulnier’s direction also has this eerie element of violence in the way it’s presented as the dead body is seen with a knife on her head but no blood until the knife is pulled out. The violence would intensify during a standoff between Darcy and one of the band members in Pat (Anton Yelchin) who agreed to exchange a handgun for a cell phone only to realize that it was a set-up leaving Pat’s arm to be cut badly. Things would get more violent as the film progresses that would eventually lead to a showdown where it is about a battle of wits and will despite the lack of resources and experience the band and Amber (Imogen Poots) have in a fight or in a battle. Even as it’s all about the impact and sense of will but also the need to survive no matter how much the odds are against this small group of punks. Overall, Saulnier crafts a riveting yet haunting film about a hardcore punk rock band stuck inside a room at a venue for neo-Nazi skinhead punks.
Cinematographer Sean Porter does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it’s low-key in its approach to lighting for many of the interiors in day and night as well as the exterior scenes set at night. Editor Julia Bloch does fantastic work with the editing as its usage of rhythmic cuts play into the suspense and terror without the need to delve into fast-paced cutting by emphasizing on momentum in the suspense. Production designer Ryan Warren Smith, with set decorator Jenelle Giordano and art director Benjamin Hayden, does brilliant work with the look of the club the band plays as well as the green room which is a room to relax until it becomes a safe haven for the band away from the Nazis. Costume designer Amanda Needham does nice work with the costumes from the ragged look of the band as well as the look of the Nazis with their boots and red laces for the group of extremists.
Prosthetic makeup designer Michael Marino does amazing work with the look of gore and some of the violent moments that happen in the film. Visual effects supervisor Chris Connolly does terrific work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects as it mainly serves as set dressing for some of the violence as well as a few moments in the exterior scenes. Sound designer Roland Vajs does superb work with the sound in capturing the sound of live music heard at the venue or at another room as well as the way feedback is used as a weapon in the film. The film’s music by Brooke and Will Blair is wonderful for its haunting usage of strings and keyboards to create an ominous music score that help play into the suspense and drama while music supervisor Lauren Mikus provides a killer soundtrack filled with a lot of punk rock music from acts like Bad Brains, Fear, Corpus Rottus, Kingsley Fowley, Spectre Folk, Poison Idea, Hochstedder, Patsy Rats, Midnight, Syphilitic Lust, Missionary Position, Obituary, and Harassor along with non-punk music from Napalm Death, Slayer, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The casting by Avy Kaufman is great as it feature some notable small roles from Taylor Tunes as the young woman who would be killed early in the film, David W. Thompson as a punk rock radio host who would get the band a new gig, Kai Lennox as skinhead attack dog trainer Clark, Eric Edelstein as the skinhead bouncer Big Justin, Brent Werzner as a neo-Nazi skinhead musician in Werm, Macon Blair as a skinhead who works at the club who is trying to smooth things out, and Mark Webber as the radio host’s cousin Daniel who is a skinhead that is unaware of what is going on at the green room. Callum Turner and Joe Cole are superb in their respective roles as the singer Tiger and drummer Reece as two musicians trying to deal with the Nazis with former discovering what is underneath the green room while the latter is trying keep Big Justin at bay with some mixed-martial arts moves.
Alia Shawkat is fantastic as guitarist Sam as a musician who is trying to maintain some calm but is also willing to fight back as is kind of the unsung leader of the band. Imogen Poots is excellent as Amber as a friend of the woman who is killed as she is trying to deal with what happened as well was wanting to revenge for her friend while knowing about the environment that everyone is at. Anton Yelchin is brilliant as the band bassist Pat as a young man who is trying to survive as he deals with being assaulted and the chaos around him as he also delivers this great monologue about an experience he had that becomes a rallying pep talk of sorts. Finally, there’s Patrick Stewart in an incredible performance as Darcy Banker as the leader of the neo-Nazis and club owner who is this calm yet dangerous individual that is trying to outsmart the band while knowing what needs to be done as it’s one of his finest performances of his career.
Green Room is a spectacular film from Jeremy Saulnier. Thanks to its ensemble cast, eerie setting, haunting visuals, intense music, and gripping atmosphere. It’s a film that takes a simple setting and situation while amplifying the sense of fear and tension while getting a look from the perspective of two different forces trying to outdo one another. In the end, Green Room is a tremendous film from Jeremy Saulnier.
Jeremy Saulnier Films: (Murder Party) – (Blue Ruin) – (Hold the Dark)
© thevoid99 2018