Green Room (2015)

Destined for cult classic status, “Green Room” is a punk rock powder keg of intensity and brutality!

Writer/director, Jeremy Saulnier (“Blue Ruin”), has delivered the most tension loaded movie experience I’ve endured this year with “Green Room,” causing me to grip the edges of my armrest with sweaty palms for the entirety of its tightly paced 95 minute runtime. It’s as hard, fast and nasty as the punk rock played by the film’s fictional punk band, the Ain’t Rights, and at the date of this review I can’t imagine a more horrific film playing theatrically in 2016.

Anton Yelchin (J.J. Abrams’Star Trek”) is a guitar player in a garage punk band touring the south in a beat up van with his vagabond band mates, illegally siphoning gas from parked vehicles to get from one crappy gig to the next. When a promised paying gig gets cancelled in the middle of nowhere USA, the gig’s Mohawk sporting journalist/promoter turns them onto a sure thing at a club where his relative works deep in the sticks. The only catch is that the club is owned by a group of Neo Nazi white supremacists.

Don’t talk politics,” the promoter tells them. “Just get in and play the gig and it’s a guaranteed payday.”

Yelchin and his band arrive at the skinhead venue without incident, get their equipment unloaded and are shown to the green room for prep. In true punk fashion, the Ain’t Rights open their set with a cover of the Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks F—k Off,” a little ditty that surely delights the crowd of “White Power” t-shirt wearing headbangers in a room with the Confederate flag hanging right behind the stage.

Ultimately winning the crowd over with their hardcore set, the band retreats to the green room to await getting paid when Yelchin takes a wrong turn and accidentally enters a room where a murder has just been committed. He tries to call 911, but the venue’s bouncers take his cellphone and lock him and his band mates in the green room while they try to cover up the mess.  It quickly becomes clear that the skinheads can never let their captives leave the venue alive, and this band has no intention of going down without a fight.

From this point on, things only get worse and if you have no stomach for sudden, realistic, brutal, bloody violence, then you may want to skip “Green Room” altogether because this film assaults both its protagonists and its audience with one grizzly scene after another, a couple of which made me want to look away from the screen in disgust.

It’s not just an exploitation gore show, however, but a pressure cooker of mounting tension worthy of the Hitchcock school of psychological terror combined with the siege thriller aspects of something like John Carpenter’sAssault on Precinct 13.”

The club owner is played with cold and calculating dignity by Patrick Stewart (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”), a part the veteran actor owns with a chilly air of evil superiority. Yelchin is reunited with his surprisingly decent “Fright Night” remake co-star, Imogen Poots, who plays a local girl familiar with the hate group who gets caught up in the murder scene.

Green Room” delivers a bloody fresh take on the survival horror genre that will likely generate a cult following of fans over the years via word of mouth. Unlike the polished sheen of bigger budget Hollywood horror, this low budget screw-turner has a gritty, filthy underbelly that won’t sit well with everyone. You may feel like you need a shower before it’s all over, but the reason that it’s so unsettling is because the filmmakers have done such a fantastic job of presenting believable characters that we actually care about and dropping them into a credible scenario that seems inescapable.

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