Green Room is a meticulously focused and provocatively intense thriller that shatters your nerves as it traps you in a very helpless, claustrophobic nightmare.
The premise to Green Room is largely clean and simple. It follows a young punk band who are touring through the Pacific Northwest as they struggle to find work given their unknown underground presence. But after attaining what can be described as as close to a proper gig as the band could get, the group discover they are playing to a room of neo-Nazis in an isolated forest outside Portland. Once they finish their set, they stubble upon a murder where they quickly find themselves fighting for their lives as a group of neo-Nazis led by Patrick Stewart attempt to cover up the entire catastrophe.
I can only describe Green Room as a very raw contemporary thriller that feels cold, dirty and overall is presented with a bleak unpleasantness.
The muddy green and blue colour aesthetic, the grim weather and the almost unhealthy appearance of it’s characters makes the film feel stark and depressive which sets up a macabre overtone. It’s gloomy, sombre mood is maintained throughout to invoke a real sense of hopelessness about the entire ordeal, and when events begin to escalate, that mood quickly turns to dread and pure horror.
To basically get to the point – this film is violent… I mean really really unapologetically violent.
It’s certainly not the most aggressively gruesome film I’ve seen (if you saw last weeks video), but there is a brutally real and subtly disturbing nature to it’s violence. People are mutilated, gutted, shot and stabbed, but I really appreciate that the film never lingers or indulgences on it’s violence.
Despite what you may assume, the violence isn’t at all frequent, usually serving as a surprising and sudden reaction that you are never ready for. It’s never over the top or comes close to comedic, it’s maturely handled with it’s subtle yet very specific detail that made me look away in several occasions.
The tension is incredibly well maintained throughout the film as I found myself sinking further and further into my seat and physically reacting to the drama with the rest of the audience. In one particular scene, the audience and I called out in sickening repulse that truly made for one of the most emotive responses I have ever heard from an audience.
But violence aside, the film also appears to be keenly aware of itself, and there is almost a hidden dark sense of gallows humour that permeates throughout, especially in regards to the Anton Yelchin’s character pondering over his ‘desert island band’ and even when he begins comparing his harrowing situation to a game of paintball.
Instead, this comparison thematically represents the drastically different sides of both the Nazis and the band. Yelchin’s character describes his paintball experience being about him and his inexperienced friends being teamed up against experienced veteran soldiers, where he hid and waited to be shot while the soldiers won without a single casualty.
It practically summarises the doomed feeling of Green Room’s characters – they know they are up against experienced killers who are being tactically advised by Patrick Stuart’s authoritarian presence that casts a shadow over the band as they try to make their escape.
The band as a result, make very frequent dumb mistakes that while ultimately stupid, are convincingly honest to the panic and terror they are currently in. Decision making is very different between the groups and it’s interesting to see how confrontations play out usually because of how unpredictable and spontaneous much of the film’s action is.
Jeremy Saulnier has proven himself to be filmmaker truly worth watching given that Blue Ruin also happens to be a very intelligent and thought-provoking thriller than surprised me with it’s originality in both it’s execution and themes.
The same is completely true with Green Room – it shows it’s influences with Straw Dogs and Deliverance, but it certainly feels more inventive and original than many other films, in fact, for me, it’s the best contemporary thriller I’ve seen since Cold in July back in 2014.
Green Room behaves like one of those moments when you instinctively feel like you’re in danger or something bad is about to happen – adrenaline begins rushing through your body, you’re fight or flight response kick in, but your decision making and your perception of what to do becomes completely distorted.
It’s a true uncaring nightmare – it questions your decisions, your actions and your sensibilities during a time when all hope for safety is completely lost.