Punk hor­ror movie you never knew you wanted

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - MOVIES - By Katie Walsh

In writer-di­rec­tor Jeremy Saulnier’s “Blue Ruin,” which put him on the map in 2013, the ten­sion is con­trolled, mea­sured: It fol­lows an in­ten­tional plan of vi­o­lence in a story of long over­due re­venge. In his fol­low-up, “Green Room,” Saulnier takes the op­po­site ap­proach in a hor­ror story of the chaos and ran­dom chance of vi­o­lence set in the world of hard­core punk shows.

While “Blue Ruin” was openly emo­tional, bur­row­ing into deep in­ter­fa­mil­ial rifts, “Green Room” throws strangers to­gether to see how they fare in ex­treme sit­u­a­tions, adding a touch of dry, mor­bid hu­mor to the grue­some pro­ceed­ings.

This switch is a kind of rev­e­la­tion for Saulnier, in­ject­ing a stream of purest punk smack right into the vein. “Green Room” just might be the kind of punk hor­ror movie you never knew you al­ways wanted, cat­alyz­ing dis­parate el­e­ments into a heady, bloody, loud stew of hor­ror macerated with hard­core.

“Green Room” falls into the genre of thrillers where some­thing goes very wrong, and ev­ery­one in­volved sub­se­quently makes poor choices, lead­ing to an even worse sit­u­a­tion. In this case, a young DIY hard­core band, Ain’t Rights, find them­selves at a back­woods Ore­gon com­pound that’s just a shade too neo-Nazi for their taste. They’re only there to play a show in or­der to make enough gas money to get home to D.C. in their wretched van.

Af­ter their set, Pat (An­ton Yelchin) goes to grab Sam’s (Alia Shawkat) phone from their dress­ing room and be­comes a wit­ness to a hor­ren­dous crime in the process. Think­ing MPAA rat­ing: R for strong bru­tal graphic vi­o­lence, gory images, language and some drug con­tent. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 34 min­utes Opens: Fri­day fast, se­cu­rity (Eric Edel­stein) and the club man­ager (Ma­con Blair) bar­ri­cade the band in the room, along with punk girl Am­ber (Imo­gen Poots), to keep them from call­ing 911 or go­ing to the po­lice. Soon, the com­pound’s boss (Pa­trick Ste­wart) shows up to con­tain the sit­u­a­tion, with dogs and weapons and young men called Red Laces in tow.

The film wants to ex­plore the may­hem of vi­o­lence and the ba­nal­ity of pure evil, when mul­ti­ple mur­der is treated like mop­ping the floor and tak­ing out the trash, a chore, a task. One of the scari­est el­e­ments of the film is the non­cha­lant way in which the neo-Nazi move­ment be­comes just an­other com­mu­nity out­post, just an­other club to join, with Ste­wart as a be­lea­guered leader. Th­ese aren’t goose-step­ping, spit­tle-fly­ing fas­cists; th­ese are far more in­sid­i­ous be­cause they seem nor­mal, and they’re very or­ga­nized.

Poots and Yelchin carry the film as in­no­cent-faced strangers who band to­gether to use their smarts and re­source­ful­ness to com­bat the forces against them. In this film, brains faces brawn, and it’s never clear which one is go­ing to pre­vail. The vi­o­lence comes in bursts, a quick buck­shot spat­ter of maiming or death. The pac­ing fol­lows a fast-fast-slow pat­tern, with vi­o­lence fol­lowed by long pe­ri­ods of in­tro­spec­tion to pon­der how one step, one choice changes the course of life.

Saulnier cap­tures the at­mos­phere of the hazy, grimy, damp club, as well as rit­u­als of hard­core cul­ture down to the hair­cuts and jack­ets and shoes; ev­ery­thing means some­thing, ev­ery­thing has sig­nif­i­cance. Though the film ex­presses chaotic energy in mu­sic and vi­o­lence, noth­ing about the film­mak­ing is ran­dom. Each de­tail is metic­u­lously placed, threads stitched to­gether to cre­ate the larger whole of a hor­ror film that is just about per­fect.


Pa­trick Ste­wart, left, and Ma­con Blair play lead­ers of a neo-Nazi group in the hor­ror-thriller “Green Room.”

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