I was so excited when I first read up on this film, starring Patrick Stewart of all people as the sinister boss of a Nazi party. I’m a big fan of Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin which was frankly one of the best films I saw last year (I was late to the party, okay). The film is violent as anything but undoubtedly thrilling film-making.
I say this a lot but it seems rarer and rarer that I see a really bloody good (new) film these days so the Blue Ruins stay with me. But did BR’s follow up live up to my high expectations? Read on, my friends!
Green Room (2015)
IMDB Synopsis: After witnessing a murder, a punk rock band is forced into a vicious fight for survival against a group of maniacal skinheads.
It’s funny what people are capable of when they have no choice, isn’t it? While I’ve never found myself in the same sticky position as our friends, punk band The Ain’t Rights, films that make me question What I Would Do are fascinating to me.
Pat (Yelchin), Sam (Shawkat), Reece (Cole) and Tiger (Turner) are on the road, travelling through the Pacific Northwest. Their ‘tour’ isn’t selling out stadiums unfortunately, so they’re taking any gig they can grab along the way. One such ‘gig’ is a radio interview for a local station hosted in a guy called Tad’s (Thompson) front room.
His cousin then hooks them up with a rather underwhelming (and underpaid) appearance in a pub and the band are fed up. In a final attempt to appease his new friends, Tad arranges for them to play a club located in the middle of the woods. Since nothing ever goes wrong in the woods, the gang agree to do it. They arrive to a not-exactly-ecstatic fanfare.
The Ain’t Rights quickly realise they’re in neo-nazi territory and as a (quite ballsy) fuck you, they jokingly play a cover of The Dead Kennedys‘ Nazi Punks Fuck Off. Reactions are mixed (not really) and a few bottles are thrown but the band play on and some of the nasty skinheads even start dancing. The show is quickly over and the band are on their way out. It’s going to be a short film guys with minimal fuss.
Oh but wait, someone’s forgotten something so Pat goes back into their dressing room to retrieve it and… well he witnesses something nasty and shit goes downhill from here. ARGHHHHHHHH!
There’s nothing worse than that feeling you’re going to get away and then, you don’t get away at all. As the synopsis suggests, Pat walks in on the aftermath of a violent murder and fails to keep his cool. With 911 called (by Pat) and cops on the way, our friendly neighbourhood Nazis are in a bit of a fix. Wouldn’t it be good if an older person with influence rocked up and sorted everything?
Enter Darcy (Patrick FUCKING Stewart), the evident director of proceedings. His calm demeanor and worryingly soft spoken authority just make him even more threatening. The band have not been allowed to leave the premises and are all now witnesses, holed up in the dressing room with bouncer Big Justin (Edelstein). They’ve gained a new acquaintance, Amber (Poots), whose heart doesn’t really seem that into the Nazi lifestyle. She’s also the best friend of the victim.
From here is becomes a desperate fight for survival and I don’t think you need me to spoil it for you. It’s very, very violent and some of the scenes are particularly nasty. If you’re not that way inclined I would back away slowly from the Green Room. I had to watch a few scenes from behind my fingers, not gonna lie. Consider yourself warned!
It seems amidst all the action painful truths are outed, turning the bad against one another. Sides are switched, blood is shed – and there’s only one way out.
Who, if anybody, will make it out? Why was Emily (Taylor Tunes), the victim even killed?
I liked it. A lot.
It really was very violent and one particular scene is still haunting me a little (actually make that two). I think Game of Thrones has raised my gore threshold ten fold but even so sometimes hyper-real horror makes me want to chunder.
There’s an impending sense of doom all through the first half an hour naturally but as soon as our heroes are incarcerated against their will, it all feels very claustrophobic (Glynn likened it to 10 Cloverfield Lane in tone in some parts, and I agree). Perhaps it’s the simple and makeshift looking set pieces and the musical equipment piled everywhere. Either way you don’t feel comfortable watching this no matter how many peanut M&Ms you shove in your mouth.
The cast are great from the band, who aren’t that likeable even (until they start getting into hot water, then you kind of feel for them) to the skinheads and henchmen themselves. Macon Blair is such an interesting actor. I hope he breaks out and does well in more varied roles because he’s definitely one to watch.
As Gabe, he commands the screen in such a gentle and skilled manner that it makes you like him even as he perpetrates acts you don’t agree with. Blair stars both in Blue Ruin and Green Room (as well as Saulnier’s feature debut Murder Party which looks amazing frankly and is firmly on my list).
The other standout here is unsurprisingly, the late Yelchin. I won’t lament too long on how sad this loss is as we all know but he’s never disappointed me in any of his roles and he’s good in this too. His character comes on in leaps and bounds, and it’s sweet to watch.
I also really enjoy both the girls in this, Shawcat and Poots. Obviously I was always going to be happy to see Maeby Fünke do anything at all and Poots takes on a role very different from anything I’ve seen her in before. Interestingly, this film passes the Bechdel Test which I am going to mark all the films I review on from now on (I say interestingly as it appears quite male dominated). This list is incredibly useful for that and this is what it says about GR.
There’s been lots said about Patrick Stewart being miscast and I can’t honestly tell. I think he’s wasted to be honest and not in it enough for me to decide whether I liked him or now. I was excited to see him deliver on a part I’d never imagine for him and he didn’t. He’s good don’t get me wrong but he sort of appears and then disappears and does not leave a lasting impression.
My Rating: 4/5. Horribly good.