Tuesday, March 29, 2016

“Green Room”– Movie Review


This week, I attended a sneak preview at The Film Society Of Lincoln Center for the new thriller, “Green Room”, starring Alia Shawkat and Patrick Stewart.


When a punk rock band witnesses a crime at the club where they’re playing, can they escape the clutches of the evil club owner who’s trying to prevent them from going to the police? 


Punk rockers The Ain’t Rights are struggling. While their gigs are sometimes hard to come by, the few that they do get frequently don’t pay very well – when they don’t have enough money to pay for refilling their van to get them to the next performance, they just wind up siphoning gas from other cars. During their tour throughout Oregon, they manage to get a booking at a club outside of Portland; although it appears to be paying a bit better, there’s one drawback: the club is known to be run by neo-Nazi skinheads who draw similarly-minded crowds.

Once at the dingy, run-down club seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the band somehow manages to finish their set amidst a hostile audience that shouts abusively at them, spits on them and tries to injure band members by hurling various objects towards the stage. Packing up to leave for the night, Sam (Shawkat) suddenly realizes she forgot her cell phone in their dressing room. When one of her fellow band members goes back there to retrieve it for her, he finds a number of people occupying the room – one of them being a young woman who has been stabbed in the head and is apparently dead.

Although he didn’t see who stabbed her, he found the body – as a result, club owner Darcy (Stewart) decides to hold the entire band members at his club to prevent them from going to the police. He tells the band they won’t be hurt and will let them go once his henchmen dispose of the body. Given the circumstances, however, it is understandable that none of them believe Darcy. Learning that the club also houses a drug lab in its basement, the band members fear for their safety even more and try to bolt – but with Darcy’s team of armed and maniacally violent workers keeping guard, will the band succeed in their plans to flee? 


Calling “Green Room” an exploitation flick wouldn’t necessarily be a pejorative term – in fact, the filmmaker would probably wear that appellation like a badge of honor.  For fans of slasher films with lots of gruesome gory visual images consummated with a classic Grand Guignol-like denouement, “Green Room” will fail to disappoint.  Of course, in movies such as this, the plot generally tends to take something of a backseat so expectations of nuanced character development and intricate storytelling devices with be dashed rather severely. 

“Green Room” is one of those “who will survive?” guessing games with the obligatory scenes where the various protagonists make bad decisions along the way.  But that’s all part of the fun when it comes to slasher porn.  While Alia Shawkat is somewhat wasted in this film, Patrick Stewart is a joy to behold as the villainous Darcy; in fact, he’s not in the movie nearly enough.  In some ways, it might’ve been more of a fun experience if we had seen the band members directly trying to overcome Darcy alone rather than attempting to defeat his henchmen. 

Following the screening was a brief question and answer session with “Green Room”’s writer/director Jeremy Saulnier.  Saulnier said that he started writing the screenplay for “Green Room” towards the end of the time he was taking his previous film, “Blue Ruin”, around the film festival circuit.  He recalled choosing this story because it was an idea that had been on his mind for the past decade or so; he felt that the concept was substantially different from that of “Blue Ruin”, a tale of revenge.  What also appealed to him about “Green Room” is that he could incorporate his love for punk rock music.    

Green Room (2015) on IMDb

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