you didn’t suffer from anxiety before watching Green Room, you
certainly will after. This is quite simply one of the most brutal,
tension-filled and unpredictable films you’ll see this (or any) year.
Director Jeremy Saulnier’s follow up to his amazing ‘Blue Ruin’ (also
reviewed on this blog a couple years back, check the archives up top) is
a step-up in most every way. Green Room captures the authenticity of
the punk/hardcore scene with every character and frame, marrying it
completely with a violent central story revolving around a few kids
being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you can handle gore so
realistic, you’d swear it was real, and enough tension to make your legs
ache from shaking, Green Room will stage dive into your face without
remorse, and you’ll love it.
I mentioned above
that this movie is incredibly authentic. While I’ve thankfully never
experienced a neo-Nazi punk show, I have been to and played at my fair
share of rundown, sketchy clubs and hardcore shows. Director Jeremy
Saulnier has spoken about his time growing up in and around the
Washington DC punk scene and that experience is apparent. There’s
absolutely nothing glamorous about the life of a touring punk band, and
all the little details of how these kids make their living feel totally
believable and real. I feel like I’ve met versions of all of the main
characters throughout my life. The cocky alpha-bro band guy, the quiet
shy guy who transforms when he plays live like some rock and roll Jekkyl
and Hyde. The believably of all these kids makes it all the more
difficult when their gig takes a violent turn for the worst.
Stewart is the king. Man, he’s so good in this movie. Where Stewart
could’ve cranked up the performance into a larger-than-life caricature,
he keeps it subtle as the leader and venue-owner of the Nazi gang/club.
He plays it with a Picard-sense of logic and calculation, just with
arguably more N-words. I also love that he doesn’t even cover up his
accent, because at the end of the day it isn’t important. I spoke above
about how wildly unpredictable this movie is, and that’s why it’s so
damn tense. From practically the get-go, you believe completely that any
and all of these kids can die at any minute, and that nothing and
nobody is safe. So many times during the movie I thought “oh here we go,
now things will turn around for these kids!” Nope. It’s like George R.
R. Martin wrote a movie about punk rock and skinheads.
way in which this movie is a huge success is in its thematic depth.
Green Room is a great metaphor for the destructiveness of toxic belief
systems, both in terms of fascist Nazism, down to the punk lifestyle.
The first people to go in this movie (meaning violent, violent death)
are those most extreme in their beliefs. One of the most interesting
characters is a newer skinhead recruit, who throughout the movie has his
entire belief system chipped away by the events that unfold. Without
giving away specifics, his arc drives home this point that extreme,
radical belief in most anything will destroy you, or in the case of
Green Room, get you destroyed. On the punks side of it, the most gung-ho
punk-rock kids are equally the first ones to bite the dust. It’s a
really interesting dichotomy between the two that the movie didn’t have
to include, but that it did only makes it that much better.
That’s going to do it for Green Room. Like I said, if you love horror movies,
get to see it asap. You’ll be cringing for a lot of the run-time, but if
you’re into that sort of movie, Green Room is right in your wheelhouse.
Jeremy Saulnier is really proving himself to be an awesome new talent,
and I hope he keeps making the stuff he wants to make instead of getting
hired to make a big budget Hollywood thing. I love those movies, and
they definitely have their place, but movies as specific and unique as
Green Room deserve more company. I’m going to try and see The Nice Guys
soon so keep an eye out for that write-up soon, and if you stuck around
this long, thanks for reading!