Jeremy Saulnier / Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Patrick Stewart / Horror-Thriller / 2016 / 18 / 95mins
A killer cast is just what the doctor ordered for Jeremy Saulnier’s sophomore effort and, with the late Anton Yelchin and great Patrick Stewart, the director has played it safe with another grim tale.
A hardcore punk band find themselves in hot water after witnessing a murder backstage at a neo-Nazi gig in the remote Pacific Northwest. Club owner Darcy (Patrick Stewart) gathers his minions for battle as Pat (Anton Yelchin) and co. plan to escape the titular green room.
Saulnier’s 2015 debut, Blue Ruin, was superb, and Green Room follows the same horror-thriller vein with grittier, blood drenched results. In fact, it’s a solid improvement on Blue Ruin – more concise, more guts, a better tempo – and Patrick Stewart is an evil little shite-filled godsend as the despicable Darcy. He cements his place as a thoroughly versatile actor (as if he needed to). Yelchin’s lead turn plays to the cutesy heroism he portrays so often, but at least it works. I presume the band’s music was performed live, and if so full marks there too.
Unfortunately for us, the characters are fucking idiots. Whilst there is obvious proactivity, most actions seem bizarre, painful and downright stupid, exploited for gory punchlines that lead nowhere. Gorefest fans will crave this quick fix but the lack of emotional input is, ultimately, annoying. One redeeming feature is the end, which is enormously satisfying compared to similarly styled slasher flicks.
Saulnier is a man clearly trying to find his place in cinema. He’s honed in on his strengths, completing a pleasing yet run of the mill horror, and I can only hope he ventures beyond his comfort zone in due course.
There hasn’t been anything niche like Green Room for a while and it’s self-confessed cultness has benefitted it. It’s a delicate situation: what makes it great is the bloody script (yay – BLOOD EVERYWHERE!) and what makes it awful is the bloody script (fucking awful decision making). At the end of the day, if you’re not a horror/thriller fan then move swiftly on.
Film as a Film – 3 / Target Audience – 4 / General Audience – 2
Green Room is available On Demand and on DVD
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