The horror genre goes through phases. At its height, the main draw was an unstoppable superhuman monster that stalked the hero (usually heroine). Through the endless sequels, that appeal went away. The genre reinvented itself through irony during the 90s and made a new generation fall in love with it. Throughout the genre’s many stages of evolution, it’s usually been about teens making terrible decisions, and the things in the dark that go and attack them. Green Room follows many of the rules for horror and is a captivating film. Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier creates a tense, gory, violent, haunted house film, but instead of the monsters being the undead, they are Neo-Nazis led by the legendary Patrick Stewart.
The film follows a local punk band called “The Ain’t Rights” consisting of Tiger (Callum Turner), guitarist Sam (Alia Shawkat), bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin), and drummer Reece (Joe Cole), as they embark on a “tour” across Portland. And when they mean tour, they are getting drunk, desperately getting gigs wherever they can, and siphoning gasoline from other cars when they run out of money. After being stumped by a bookie, they make the dumb mistake of trusting that same bookie and get a new gig performing at another venue. However, this venue is at a building/club owned by Neo-Nazis. Hey, a gig’s a gig! The group for some crazy reason decided to perform Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” in front of the Neo-Nazi group. As tense as it is, they do their rock show and are just ready to head on out with no problem. As the group is getting ready to leave, Sam forgets her phone charging in the Green Room, where they witness a murder by the Nazis. So begins the horrifying adventure.
The rest of the film spends most of the time in the actual Green Room, in the basement, or the bar area of the Neo-Nazi Club. First, there is a mini-“negotiation” with the Neo-Nazi leader Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart), which then turns into a true and blue haunted house where the Nazi’s are hunting down the band and a disillusioned Neo-Nazi named Amber (Imogen Poots). As the action heats up, you are immediately made aware that this will not be a fun time for our protagonists. They have to avoid machetes, killer pit bulls, and gunshots going off all over the place. This is an exceptionally gory film, and not for the faint of heart. Although this is technically an indie film, the special effects budget made some very realistic gore…. And notes dogs!!! The audience gets to play a guessing game as to who will survive the night because there are some moments where if you blink, you’ll be a particularly awesome death.
If you have been following Patrick Stewart for the past 20 years, he’s been the fearless Captain Picard from Star Trek: TNG, the wise Professor Xavier, and pretty much the most loveable person on the Internet. That all changes in Green Room. Our favorite Enterprise captain is a hardened Neo-Nazi leader, and he means business! He is Hannibal Lecter-calm, but at the same time as evil as they come. There are a few moments in the film where just he walking into the room will evoke terror after a while. He is methodical, cruel, and ruthless. He doesn’t mind sending rabid pit bulls after them time and time again. If you weren’t afraid of dogs before, you will have a new fear, them and Patrick Stewart. Actor Macon Blair does an interesting job as Gabe, one of the main Neo-Nazi’s who is earning his stripes through the entire process. He toes a fine line between being just as afraid as the band, and just as ruthless as Stewart.
Like most horror films, the plot is as basic as it comes, but you don’t mind because it is so tense, that you will overlook the very basic 2-Act structure. There is a decent amount of humor to help ease the tension at times. The film does inform the audience to a little bit of Skinhead culture as well, before this film you didn’t know what “Red Laces” meant. Overall, this is a very exciting thrill ride, which will leave you guessing until its conclusion as to how it will end. If this film manages to cross the threshold, expect more films to be this unique.
Final Rating: 4/5