Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier’s sophomore film Blue Ruin (2013) was met with critical acclaim and brought him into the spotlight as a talented independent filmmaker. Understandably, there has been a great deal of hype around Saulnier’s third film, Green Room, which debuted during the Directors’ Fortnight portion of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The film has had private screenings across the country and will see a wide theatrical release on April 29, 2016, via A24 Films.
Green Room follows a punk band The Ain’t Rights as they go from one crappy gig to another, playing to near-empty rooms for people who could care less. For anyone who has ever played in a band or followed one around, you’ll recognize that The Ain’t Rights’ portrayal of the scene is dead on. Due to their serious lack of finances, the band takes a gig outside of Portland, which happens to be a neo-Nazi bar. When one of the band members witnesses something he shouldn’t, things quickly go downhill and gets bloody…oh so bloody.
The club is owned by a man named Darcy, played by the brilliant Patrick Stewart. When I first heard that Stewart was playing a neo-Nazi in Green Room, I had no idea what to expect because it seems so uncharacteristic. However, he nailed the performance and was downright terrifying and cold-blooded. His club bouncer and right-hand man, Gabe, was played by Macon Blair. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Saulnier’s career since Blair has appeared in all of his films to date. Blair provides some comic relief next to Stewart’s stone cold character. Members of The Ain’t Rights were played by Anton Yelchin (Pat), Alia Shawkat (Sam), Joe Cole (Reece) and Callum Turner (Tiger). They are joined by Imogen Poots, who plays Amber, a club goer who gets caught up in the violence.
All of the actors in Green Room have such believability about them that I found myself engaged in the story immediately. Other than great acting, the characters were well-written. They made mistakes and decisions that normal, everyday people would make in extreme situations. I could relate and see myself making some of the same choices, for better or worse. This contributes to the incredibly tense atmosphere, which winds up feeling claustrophobic at times. This is in no way a negative on the film, as it adds to the heart-pounding suspense. The film still finds ways to find humor, which allows the audience to breathe for a minute. But only for a minute.
The Ain’t Rights may not have much of a following in the film, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t rock it. One of the pivotal points even revolves around the band’s badass cover of Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks, Fuck Off.” When they aren’t playing, there are still some great tunes coming from actual bands featured, such as Battletorn, Corpus Rottus, Hochstedder and Portland’s own Patsy’s Rats.
Green Room is the punk/horror film I didn’t know I wanted, but I was so thrilled to get. Jeremy Saulnier has proved yet again that he can craft a well-made thriller that leaves the audience enthralled from beginning to end. He is definitely one to watch within the independent film space and I cannot wait to see what he has planned next. Green Room isn’t one to be missed this year!
If you would like to read a bit more about the awesomeness that is The Ain’t Rights, be sure to check them out on Top 10 Fake Rock Bands in Horror Movies!