A monster hunt in the twilight
Green Room; Remember ger audiences that like their thrillers bloody, it probably prevents his work being embraced by more mature viewers.
The early scenes of Green Room are actually pretty funny. The Ain’t Rights are a punk band, a quartet of musicians touring America in a camper van, struggling to make ends meet. Bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin) is the nominal group leader, with guitarist Sam (Alia Shawkat), drummer Reece (Joe Cole) and vocalist Tiger (Callum Turner). They are so short of cash that they siphon petrol from other cars to keep on the road. Their latest gig involves playing to a tiny audience at a small diner, from which they net just $6.87 a person.
Undeterred, they accept an offer to play at a club somewhere in rural Oregon, though they’re warned that it is a “mostly boots and braces” kind of audience and that they shouldn’t discuss politics. The reason becomes obvious at the moment that the film’s mood switches from amusing to menacing: the “club” is a home for a neo-Nazi group of nasty characters, so their version of the Dead Kennedys song Nazi Punks F..k Off doesn’t go down too well. Being heckled by their audience is the least of their problems, though. As they go backstage to collect their payment they stumble on a murder: a girl has been stabbed in the head in front of her terrified friend Amber (Imogen Poots). An attempt to contact the police is easily thwarted by the club’s owner, the suavely sinister Darcy (Patrick Stewart), and his gang of ruthless, well-armed men. For much of the rest of the movie, the musicians, plus Amber, find themselves trapped in the titular green room.
It’s to Saulnier’s credit that he succeeds in keeping the audience on the edge of its seats for 90 minutes. He employs all the tricks of the cinematic trade, in collaboration with his cinematographer, Sean Porter, whose crisply framed wide-screen images are a key asset, and editor Julia Bloch, whose timing is spot-on. The actors are good too, with Poots a standout as the resourceful Amber. Part of the fun — if that’s the right word — of this kind of film is guessing in which order the cast members will meet a sticky end, and in this case it’s not so easy to guess correctly.
It is violent; bodies are slashed, throats torn open by savage dogs, bullets collide with heads. On that level, it’s excessive; but Saulnier’s undoubted skills as a director just about outweigh his fondness for gore.
Patrick Stewart, centre, plays a sinister club owner in below, Christopher Plummer as an aged Nazi hunter in