Review of “Green Room”
Written and directed by: Jeremy Saulnier
Run time: 94 minutes
It is an interesting thing, watching a movie with the cast and crew that worked on it. Not being a movie critic who has been formally educated on film criticism, but a lover of film who just loves to write and talk about movies, I have not gotten many opportunities to do so. Thanks to my dear friend Tracy Cutts (who was script supervisor for the film) I got the chance to watch “Green Room”, at the Portland premier, with much of the cast and writer/director Jeremy Saulnier in attendance. Before finding our seats, before the lights went down, and before I watched what is now on my short list for best film of 2016 Tracy walked me around and introduced me to many of the people who had a hand in creating the movie. Being the “Fan boy” that I am, I had to keep telling myself to watch “Green Room” through a lens of honesty. To not let the energy of the room, and the inside stories I heard from people who were behind the scenes influence my opinion of the movie itself. When I write reviews on this site I am, if nothing else, honest about my opinion of the movies. So it was a huge relief when, about ten minutes into the movie, I realized that I had nothing to worry about. I could sit back and enjoy the amazing movie I was watching without bias.
The first scenes in “Green Room” introduce us to The Ain’t Rights, a touring punk band who are out of money and gas and just trying to get home. When they are offered a gig, at a bar in the backwoods of Oregon, they figure the $350 payday will be enough to get them there. They go to the isolated, threatening looking bar, play the gig to a rough crowd of skinheads, and go to get their money and the hell out of there. Unfortunately, they stumble on a bloody scene in a back room and end up being held against their will until club owner Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart) figures out how he wants the situation handled. What starts out as a mildly intense negotiation escalates into a blood-soaked standoff.
I remember first watching Saulnier’s “Blue Ruin”, and thinking to myself “Imagine what this guy could do with a bigger budget!”. Well, “Green room” answered that question in a powerful way. Macon Blair deserved Oscar consideration for his performance in “Blue Ruin”, but here Saulnier has a much more impressive cast to work with. Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shwakat, Mark Weber, and yes Macon Blair all turn in exceptional performances armed with Saulnier’s script which shows off just how good of a writer he is. You can also tell there was much more budget to spare when it came to set design and gore effects. The entire look and feel of the movie is intense throughout, and is sure to delight fans of “Blue Ruin”.
“Green Room” is a great film, from start to finish, and the perfect followup for Saulnier. It will certainly appeal to both fans of thrillers and the horror genre… or just fans of good movies. This is guaranteed to be one of those movies that is looked back on as being a huge part of the success of Indie films in 2016. I definitely plan to see it again in theaters, and cannot wait to see where Saulnier goes next!