Green Room Review
Pit bulls, machetes and neo-Nazi’s - not exactly the ideal gig for the band Ain’t Rights
Taking on a last minute gig, band the Ain’t Rights are in for more than they bargained for.After one of their gigs gets cancelled punk group the Ain’t Rights, take on a last minute gig within the forests of Oregon in the film Green Room. This claustrophobic and tense thriller takes place predominantly within the confines of a punk club set within the forest. Unbeknownst to the band, the Ain’t Rights who have taken on the last minute gig to earn some quick cash, the club in question is a haven for neo-Nazi skin heads. This revelation makes their opening track all the more amusing: ‘Nazi Punks F**k Off’ by the Dead Kennedys. As you can imagine their attempt at humour is met with a less than positive response. However, the band survive their set and get paid but it’s when they are about to leave that they stumble across a crime scene - immediately delaying their journey home.Now witnesses to a crime the Ain’t Rights are told to wait in the green room until the police arrive, which they willingly do at first. It’s only after they are being held at gun point that they start to realise that the police might not be coming and they might not be getting out of there in one piece. Trying to control the situation is Gabe (Macon Blair) who does his best but ultimately has to rely on Darcy (Patrick Stewart) the owner of the club and leader of a far right activist movement. Intent on clearing up this mess, Darcy formulates a plan to ensure that no trace of the Ain’t Rights could ever be found at his club. However, the band aren’t willing to give up that easily so, along with Amber (Imogen Poots) who also finds herself caught up in this mess, they decide to fight their way out.
Green Room is written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier who has had success from both his previous films - Murder Party and Blue Ruin. Having watched hardcore bands in Washington DC Saulnier uses a certain amount of influence from his own youth to add a sense of reality to the film. The cinematography is smooth and sleek and combines close ups with long shots to accentuate the confines of the club - which is decorated darkly and covered in graffiti, adding to the building sense of menace. The film brilliantly opens up with the Ain’t Rights on the open road in their van - these scenes are slow and serine which creates a foreboding tension immediately. There is another quite elegant shot of the band performing giving it all they’ve got with the audience head banging and foot stomping along. This scene is shot in slow motion and against soft almost classical music - giving these monstrous creatures a short-lived graceful coating before all hell breaks lose.
Green Room is excellent at building the pace and the tension, the constant drone of punk music in the background adds an element of aggression that feels like it is constantly just below boiling temperature about to boil over at any minute. Saulnier does well at keeping the audience guessing what is going to happen next, you think that the film is going to go one way then it completely diverts in a different, unexpected direction. I wouldn’t go as far as to say there are twists and turns in his film but there are some definite plot devices that keep things moving that you might not have expected. The one small negative, for me, was that some of the dialogue was unclear which made it difficult in understanding some of the narrative, that may have just been the cinema I was at, I’m not sure.
A strong sense of foreboding doom hangs over this slow burner with just the right amount of gore thrown in for good measure.
If there is one stand out performance throughout the entire film it has to be Imogen Poots. Her character goes through a complete transformation but it doesn’t feel forced or out of place. She is the only one who seems resigned to her fate but makes sure if the worst happens she is going out kicking and fighting. Ain’t Rights is made up of Pat (Anton Yelchin), Reece (Joe Cole), Sam (Alia Shawkat) and Tiger (Callum Turner) - each deliver a decent performance fluctuating between anger, fear and pure resignation of death. Stewart is good in the role of Darcy, head Nazi who oozes charisma and has the eerie ability to remain icy cool at all times; it’s easy to see how he managed to groom so many young men into following his cause. To be fair, there are good performances from the smaller roles throughout the film, each one contributing to the film's climax.
Green Room doesn’t go in the direction you think it will and it’s precisely what makes this thriller work. It is definitely a slow burner and I personally thought it did drag on slightly in the middle but the end manages to pick-up the pace again with an ending that perhaps doesn’t quite go out with a bang but fits the film's overall style. With definite influence from past films and directors, Saulnier has created a film that is just the right amount of shocking.
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