This film has arguably the best premise ever. It follows a broke punk band who become trapped backstage at an isolated, backwoods venue and must fend off murderous nazi skinheads who are lead by Patrick Stewart. If that doesn’t appeal to you then chances are you won’t enjoy this but if you do like the sound of it just know that Green Room really, really delivers. This is a nasty, visceral, funny and ballsy little thriller.
Even calling this a thriller feels misleading. It often feels more like a horror in spirit. The environment and levels of gore certainly back this up. It’s a grubby, terrifyingly enclosed space where people die via machete, bullet, stanley knife and pitbull’s teeth.
What really makes this frightening though is the sheer level of tension that director Jeremy Saulnier (who previously gave us Blue Ruin) creates. It is, at times, almost unbearable as our heroes stumble upon something they shouldn’t have and enter a stand off in one of the sketchiest situations imaginable. Sure enough, it soon explodes into violence and after doing so never lets up. In many ways the story of tensions boiling over in a confined location is similar to The Hateful Eight but this never feels as cartoony as that film, despite its Assault on Precinct 13-esque set up. The violence is extreme but feels real, it feels painful. It’s hard to think of another recent film where everything goes to shit as comprehensively and effectively as it does here.
Anton Yelchin is fine as our introverted punk protagonist but it’s Imogen Poots as a disillusioned skinhead nutcase who is the scene stealer. That’s some achievement when going up against a racist Jen-Luc Picard. Poots manages to be a likeable and dangerous wild card who never veers totally into caricature even when being the craziest person in a room full of white supremacists.
There’s little point in detailing more of the specifics here. As one of the band explain their love of punk music at the film’s start it’s hard not to see it as a thinly veiled metaphor for the film as a whole. ‘It’s about aggression. It’s about timing. It’s energy. Green Room, like punk, is abrasive and enlivening.
Green Room is in cinemas on Friday May 13th. Check out the trailer below.
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