Brutality on film has never been shown to us more recently in the manner that Jeremy Saulnier shows audiences with his latest offering, Green Room. A relentless thriller that is never afraid to reach the extremes, but never exploits these extremes for its own sake, just the amount of tension it manages to rack up within a rather short running time is absolutely incredible. It’s never easy to tell what sort of turns Green Room is set to take, but it adds more to the incredible experience that is set to come. This was most certainly one of the best theater experiences I’ve had in a long time, and I’m eager to watch it again at some point.
Jeremy Saulnier works around several genre tropes and puts them into a blender in order to form the ride that is Green Room. While not a direct horror film, there are very many moments that certainly feel as if they could be coming from said genre, as Saulnier’s methods work around the viewer’s minds to bring them closer to the characters in the situation which they are inhabiting. Within the confinement that surrounds Green Room, Saulnier forms up a fantastic experimentation with claustrophobia which then goes under the skin of those who view what’s given, a masterfully handled thriller which borders toward what’s running inside of our own heads.
Green Room also presents a unique allegory for slavery right at hand, given as before the Ain’t Rights are performing their gig, only to find that the “club” where they played at was a hideout for neo Nazi skinheads. While outside this premise couldn’t work as properly, it’s not unless Jeremy Saulnier handles the ideas in such a nuanced manner and thus, we’re left with what truly is one of the most intelligent entries into the thriller genre for recent years. As the film progresses, the ideologies are left to develop more, and the intensity comes right from the screen onto the viewers, it’s absolutely incredible.
Saulnier’s usage of violence on the screen is another aspect that makes Green Room as fascinating as it stands. As brutally graphic as it can get, Saulnier does not merely use it as a means of shocking his audiences without much else coming behind it. Saulnier uses this violence as a means of exposing the weaknesses amongst the hierarchies which come on the screen, from the unprepared Ain’t Rights to the neo Nazi skinheads who are running things around the area, to which they are at an advantage. It comes from these very moments where Saulnier indeed has succeeded in exploring how it also leaves a drastic change upon what’s running in our minds, like his own characters. The band is trapped together with Amber, who works along with them, but there’s never a moment in which they come to ask whether she is trustworthy or not, given the trauma that came around thanks to what they’ve witnessed.
The young cast alone gives a whole series of impressive performances, whether it be from Anton Yelchin as the devastated bassist Pat, or Alia Shawkat as the down-to-earth guitarist Sam. Yelchin’s character lacks confidence but later much strength comes around to him as the film progresses, as he works to fight off the skinheads. Imogen Poots plays Amber, a girl who was merely around while the group fights the skinheads, and serving as the wild card in such a scenario, she leaves the audience with questions in regards to her own character, inside of an impressive performance. Yet the standout is Patrick Stewart as the leader of the neo Nazi skinheads, within a turn that comes out of nowhere for an actor like he, as we may have grown used to his personality on Star Trek or in the X-Men films. It wouldn’t be easy to describe what he leaves for the film right away in a few words, it’s amazing what he churns out.
Green Room is relentlessness at some of its finest. It is never afraid to go as brutal as it can get. Within no time, what we’re given here is sure to stick under our skin, in one of the most impressive entries into the thriller genre out of recent years. Entering Green Room will leave around a series of horrors within its own rather short length, and after witnessing what it is set to leave, exiting won’t be as easy as one may first suspect. It’s been a full day since I watched it and the thoughts of Green Room still linger inside of my head. All that we’re left with, “Who’s your desert island band?”. Maybe there’s more to that very phrase than it seems.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via A24.
Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Screenplay by Jeremy Saulnier
Produced by Neil Kopp, Victor Moyers, Anish Savjani
Starring Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart
Release Year: 2015
Running Time: 94 minutes