A punk rock band is coming to the end of their cross-country tour. In a last minute change of plans, the band gets booked for a gig at a venue in rural Oregon that is known as a skinhead hangout. They decide to take a chance and perform, hoping to get the money they need for the long drive home. After their set ends, the band witnesses something horrific in the green room. It soon becomes clear that this group of friends is going to have to fight in order to survive the night.
While I anticipated this film would be exciting, I did not anticipate the brutality and depth of it. There were multiple layers to the plot, and the characters all had so much more than what was just on the surface. One of the things I love about this story is how quickly the feel goes from everything being fine to all hell breaking loose. It was like the flick of a switch. From that single moment the band realizes something horrible has happened, they know that their lives are in danger. That intensity and fear bleeds from the screen and surrounds the audience. It is almost impossible as an audience member to not be at the edge of your seat, feeling like you are fighting through this horrific situation along with the band. This would not have been possible if the filmmakers had not done such an amazing job with the character development. They made you care about the band members and whether or not they would survive the horrors they faced.
This was a film that really had some unexpected brutality. What made it work was that it wasn’t brutality just for the sake of having violence. It was brutality that moved the story along and showed how truly evil this skinhead gang was. Of course, it is difficult to really talk about the violence unless you also discuss the insanely perfect practical effects. Green Room has some of the most amazing, realistic practical effects I have seen in recent memory. What made the combination of violence and practical effects work so well is because most of the time it happened at an unexpected moment. The filmmakers did a great job of letting the audience know that something horrible was happening, but then it went even further and shocked them by the sheer barbarity and gruesome nature of the wounds inflicted. I found myself on more than one occasion while watching Green Room wanting to cover my eyes with my mouth hanging open in shock. The ferocity of the violence truly took this film to another level.
There were so many incredible performances in Green Room, it is difficult to select just a few to focus on. While everyone was amazing, I’m going to narrow it down to three performances that still stand out in my mind days after seeing the film. I, of course, have to begin by talking about Anton Yelchin (Odd Thomas, Star Trek) as the band member, Pat. Full disclosure, I have a soft spot for Yelchin. I think he is an incredibly talented actor, and I have yet to see him in a film I didn’t love. Green Room was no exception. His character is lovable, kind of spacey, and ever the optimist in the darkest of circumstances. Another great performance came from Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later, Fright Night) as the mysterious Amber. Poots was absolutely tremendous in this film. What I found so engaging about her character is that she comes from the backwoods skinhead culture, so as things unravel she acts almost as a guide for the band. She clearly understands what is going to happen, but she doesn’t associate herself as part of the malicious group of skinheads. Finally, I was really surprised by Macon Blair (Blue Ruin, Murder Party) as Gabe. Gabe acts as a manager at the skinhead bar. What I loved so much about Blair’s performance was how clearly he showed Gabe’s internal struggle. On the one hand, Gabe desperately wants to impress his boss and move up in the skinhead gang’s ranks. On the other hand, Gabe knows what is being done is wrong, and he is clearly battling with himself on what he should do. This was the first film I had seen Blair in, and my focus was drawn to him every time he was on screen. I want to be sure to mention all the amazing actors that made me love this film, so I will give a “shout out” to Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Mark Webber, Callum Turner, Eric Edelstein, Kai Lennox, and of course Patrick Stewart.
I really can’t emphasize enough how much I loved this film. Green Room is a ruthless tale of savagery that will excite and shock audiences. What takes this film to the next level is that it has all these traits while also having substance. There is a real story here that draws you in. The viciousness of the acts is only a byproduct of the unfortunate events that occur. Do not pass on this punk rock tale of a group of friends fighting for their lives against unspeakable odds.
OVERALL RATING: 9/10