Friday, April 22, 2016
Green Room (**)
Written and Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
If you were lucky enough to see Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin in 2014, then you had the pleasure to catch one of the more captivating thrillers of that year; a film that had a refreshing, direct approach to violence and suspense. His follow-up, Green Room, is a much more standard genre piece, a brooding gore-fest with a much more recognizable cast. In one corner, you have the punk band The Ain't Rights, four broke, pretentious rockers touring the South by the skin of their teeth, siphoning gas from other cars when need be. In the other corner, we have a malicious group of white supremacists who happen to be running and populating the Ain't Rights' latest venue. When their bass player, Pat (Anton Yelchin), witnesses something he shouldn't have, the whole band is held in a terrifying hostage situation in the venue's green room, along with a young punk girl named Amber (Imogen Poots) who is the only one in the room familiar with these radicals' capabilities. Things get more intense when the club's owner - and movement leader - Darcy (Patrick Stewart) arrives and puts into place a complicated plan to eliminate each band member without risking culpability. At Green Room's most sensational, the film works as a chamber drama within the green room, with frantic scheming happening on both sides of the wall. Macon Blair, the star of Blue Ruin, makes an appearance in this film as well, as Gabe a Darcy confidante and worker at the venue, who is unsure of the actions of Darcy and his fellow Neo-Nazis. His moral dilemma is the closest thing the film comes to a heart, and Blair brings the same kind of hangdog sincerity, despite the absurdity of his character. Where Blue Ruin mixed aspects of noir with startling character study, Green Room seems only interested in carnage, and the violence in this film is much more creative and diabolical. It's a slasher film aspiring for the prestige of the Great American Indie. I'm not quite sure it gets there. Despite its simple premise, Saulnier's script is surprisingly dense, but it only makes the story more convoluted than necessary. Supporting performances from Alia Shawkat, Kai Lennox and Joe Cole are strong, but there isn't a whole lot a wit here. Just an extended sequence of extreme violence that adds up to little but cheap thrills, but Saulnier's version of cheap is still an interesting thing to watch.