Green Room follows a punk rock band, desperate for work and pay, as they find themselves trapped in an Oregon green room. It’s then they realize their only way out is to battle the murderous white supremacists keeping them hostage, and there the ferocity unravels. The film is written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, known for such gory films as Murder Party and Blue Ruin. Green Room certainly does not fall short in the categories of gore or grand violence, but there does seem to be a formula to the madness.
Saulnier does not leave much to the imagination. While some directors may be hesitant to expose their audience, or risk criticism, Saulnier does not hold back and approaches the violence as you would beautiful choreography. Close ups are appropriate, imperative even, but there most be an emotional impact that coincides with the characters. This includes the film’s antagonists, It’s an opportunity to humanize them and serve a narrative purpose. It may not seem so in the moment, but you realize later there is a “brutally pragmatic reason behind all this carnage,” according to Saulnier.
While the violence may seem solely entertaining, trueness to the character always comes first. Whether they be good or bad, there is still reverence to loss and celebration of survival. Saulnier stresses this is not a horror movie, this is a survival movie. Sure, the audience will get to watch someone get shot straight in the head, but it is all based strictly on need.
Interlacing humor into such a dark film can be a tricky dynamic, but sometimes you just discover it in the realest of places. Saulnier said on the topic, “I never really try for humor. The key is that the characters are never in on it. You may realize a comedic beat, but the performance is always very true”.
The presence of Patrick Stewart is undeniably a strong one. He was cast as the smartest guy in the story. Whether his formulated plan goes wrong, his brain is constantly recalculating to get the result he desires. Stewart’s character is intriguing to watch because he really doesn’t have any monologues, just moments of quiet rage, where his acting truly shines through. It may even be his quietest role, but that silence creates a form of intimacy.
Green Room definitely gets two thumbs up from us here at JBTV. Be sure to check it out in theaters and let us know what you think. The film will be playing in Chicago next weekend at AMC River East 21 and Music Box Theater.