If you’ve ever been in a struggling band, you’ll be familiar with this story: play a gig, nobody shows up, get another slot at a neo-Nazi club in the woods, witness a murder and have to kill your way out of the green room.
It’s how you cut your teeth on the toilet circuit.
The first talking point is Patrick Stewart playing a far-right club owner. That itself is a treat; especially for those of more tender years, whose previous meetings with him have been Jimmy Neutron and Ice Age.
In fact, each performance is compelling: in particular Anton Yelchin in one of his final, posthumously released performances, and Englishmen Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders) and Callum Turner (Glue), whose American accents are as convincing as the terror they convey.
Terror is pretty much the crux of it; this is a film driven by claustrophobic dread and survivor’s instinct. Your heart rate is likely to rise as the band’s predicament worsens and only the most violent fate appears plausible - the close-range, almost point-of-view camera angles immersing you further into the panic.
Unfortunately, that’s about as far as the human element of Green Room stretches. The heart of the narrative is one of almost cult-like fellowship among the neo-Nazi clan, and though we are presented with a congregation of far-right skinheads, it’s never really explained why they would go to such lengths to protect each other.
There is the suggestion, of course, that such fascist views would cause a minority to stick together, or perhaps the connotation that they are involved in more heinous practises than mere abhorrent ideology, but that side of the film is never explored.
While this is a thriller, not a docudrama, the level of exploration we’re offered means there’s only ever one side we can root for. Surely the finest of thrill rides is complexified by some sort of understanding of, if not empathy for, the villains’ motive?
Regardless, this is still a film that stays true to its genre, both in terms of script and music. Given the hardcore punk backdrop, played by our fictional band The Ain’t Rights, you’ll require a sound system with enough space, organisation and punch to tread toe-to-toe with this full-throttle, acerbic soundtrack.
The punk-band narrative is lost, as you’d expect, once they’re locked away in the green room, but our reference 7.2 system makes the most of the Blu-ray’s surround-sound to give the impression of live bands playing elsewhere in the building.
Picture, too, is a test for your gear. Director Jeremy Saulnier’s choice of pallet is dim to say the least, at once replicating the dinginess of a club run by neo-Nazis (we’re assuming they're all dingy, anyway) and representing the darkness of the storyline. It's a film that will trial the detail levels and nuances of your Blu-ray player and TV or projector.
Essentially, this is a decent genre film with a relentless soundtrack, plenty of stirring violence and an array of impressive performances. Punk music rarely troubles the top ten, however, and Green Room is unlikely to fire its way into yours.
Buy Green Room on Blu-ray at Amazon (opens in new tab)
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Jeremy Saulnier
- Into the Pit: Making Green Room