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Catching Up on 2016: Josh Reviews Green Room

May 5th, 2017

Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Joe Cole) and Tiger (Callum Turner) are four teenagers in a punk band.  Almost completely out of money, they take a gig playing at a what turns out to be a ramshackle neo-Nazi skinhead bar deep in the woods of Oregon.  On their way out of the gig, Sam realizes she left her cell-phone back in the green room.  When Pat goes back to get it, he sees that there has just been a murder in the room.  The Nazis quickly lock the band-mates in the room, along with a friend of the dead girl, Amber (Imogen Poots), and call the bar’s owner, the apparent leader of that group of neo-Nazis, Darcy (Patrick Stewart).  What follows is an exercise in excruciating tension as the band-mates, trapped in the room with Nazi skinheads all around them, try to find some way out of their impossible predicament.

Green Room.cropped

Green Room was written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, who has crafted a true nail-biter of a film.  Mr. Saulnier slowly turns the screws on his characters, and the audience, until the tension is almost unbearable.  This is a tough film to watch — intentionally so.  The suspense is stomach-churning, and there are some moments of tough violence.  The film is a master class in suspense.  Mr. Saulnier cleverly confines the majority of the film to that one run-down bar and, in particular, to the one shoddy green room in which the band-mates find themselves trapped.  It’s a smart approach that pays off dividends.

Mr Saulnier has assembled a terrific cast of young people to play the kids trapped in the green room. The late Anton Yelchin (Star Trek) is wonderful as Pat.  Only Mr. Anton’s stardom hints that this particular band-member will step into center stage as the film progresses.  Mr Anton brings an innocence and sweetness to this punk rocker that is critical.  Watching this performance, I was once again flabbergasted and devastated that Mr. Yelchin is no longer with us.  What a tragedy.

I’ve been a fan of Alia Shawkat since Arrested Development, and she’s great here in a completely serious role as band-member Sam.  Ms. Shawkat is completely alive and present in the role; she brings a great energy and naturalism to her performance.

Then, of course, there is Patrick Stewart as the boss Nazi Darcy.  Mr. Stewart subsumed his usual kindly, father-figure persona to create a fearsome monster, one of the all-time great movie villains.  Darcy doesn’t have a shred of decency or human kindness in him.  To him, the kids in the band are just a problem that has to be made to go away, by any means necessary.  He is scary as hell.

Not everyone is interested in a movie like this, one that is so tense and stomach-churning.  But if you are, Green Room is a must-see.  Jeremy Saulnier has created an extremely well-crafted suspense thriller. I was fully hooked into this story from beginning to end.

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