Film review – Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier, 2016)

From a fairly clunky and drawn-out start, Green Room quickly becomes a truly shocking horror film, made all the more horrific by a believable plot line and some relatable characters.

It delivers a lot in just over 90 minutes. Punk band The Ain’t Rights (including Anton Yelchin as Pat, Alia Shawkat as Sam, Joe Cole as Reece and Callum Turner as Tiger) are living food-to-mouth and on the edge of calling it quits due to lack of funds. A particularly bad gig in Seaside, Oregon leads to the promoter setting them up with a more lucrative performance in an out-of-town area of Portland. What they don’t know is that the gig is for a group of Nazi extremists, and when one of the band members witnesses the aftermath of a murder, things take a turn for the worse and a standoff ensues between the four band members (and another bystander Amber, portrayed by Imogen Poots) and the owners of the club, led by Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart).

“Now, whatever you saw or did is no longer my concern. But let’s be clear, it won’t end well.” So says Patrick Stewart in an uncharacteristically sinister turn as Darcy. Despite a spine-tingling turn, it’s a character that never really shows his worth as a truly horrific antagonist, instead allowing some fairly useless goons to try and largely fail at his handy work. He’s got 100s of neo-Nazis under his thumb – but why? It would have been much more satisfying to get a taste of his evil mind.

Far more relatable are the four band members, who we join in this rollercoaster of misery and trauma. There are a couple of gruesome moments when the film starts to get really bloody, and it is in these moments that the film shows its excellence. Having successfully placed the viewers in the shoes of the band members, the film unravels into a slasher horror and there are some truly shocking moments to shake up the audience. What unfolds feels like a very personal experience despite being something that (hopefully) hasn’t happened to many people.

Imogen Poots is a fantastic actress, though her appearance some time into the film seemed like an after thought. Joining at a point where the band members were already well established is a factor they just about get away with, though I never really felt the same compassion as I did for the band themselves.

If you like your horrors slashy, then this will reward you. If horror to you is a CGI ghost in a mirror, then you may well be sadly disappointed.

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