Thanks to the amazing Miguel Rodriguez (Director of the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival), I had the opportunity to see Jeremy Sauliner’s latest film Green Room. I’ve been looking forward to this ever since I saw the trailer a few months back, which is masterfully cut to Morning Ritual’s cover of CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising.” It looked like the film had all the ingredients to make me a happy cinematic pie: A media-shunning punk band, Patrick Stewart playing the leader of a neo-Nazi gang, and a simple, but punchy premise–yeah, sign me up.
Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of reviews or posts that give you a full play-by play of the movie. So here’s a quick synopsis before I start talking about what I liked: Hard-up for cash four young punkers play a show for a group of skinheads and end up walking in on a murder, which results in them having to escape the venue.
Several things impressed me about this film. First of all the cinematography is beautiful. Between shots of the beer-soaked, graffiti’d venue permeating in testosterone and the lush Oregon forests, it provided just the right juxtaposition of grit and beauty. I salute both Sauliner and Sean Porter for the amazing visual work.
I have to give the movie a lot of respect for not giving us the mousy kid that learns to be a hard ass or the tough guy protagonist that tears through goons like a shark in bloody waters. It would have been the easy route to have Reece (Joe Cole) be the group’s warrior and lead character for the entirety of the film, but Sauliner flips it and we see how Reece’s temper and aggression acts a dual sword–it saves them in some moments, but also makes the scenario they’re in worse.
Instead of a stock hero we get Pat (Anton Yelchin) as our lead. He’s quiet and awkward, but packs a mighty will to survive even though everything seems hopeless for the band. Pat isn’t a tough guy. He’s a musician that happened to walk in on the wrong situation. He’s a vulnerable kid who has a love for playing live music and a detachment from the social media saturated culture we live in.
The gore is going to be a turn off for a lot of people, but don’t let that deter you from watching this film. Yes, it’s gut-wrenching at times, but the violence in Green Room works. And it works because we care about what happens to the band. We care about what happens to Amber (Imogen Poots) and even to a lesser extent Gabe (Macon Blair), who seems like he’s just trying to survive the world he’s a part of. Sauliner’s spends time letting the audience get to know the band. We seem at their lowest: playing for a diner full of disinterested people and not even getting paid what they were promised. The band isn’t disposable like a lot of the young, doe-eyed kids that show up in slasher films, so when things go south we’re rooting for them to escape, and when we start losing them, it feels like we’re losing our friends.
I’ve heard a lot of people bemoan that Patrick Stewart’s casting wasn’t right or that it didn’t work for them. It’s disappointing because I’m sure this has a lot to do with Stewart’s long-standing role as Captain Picard on the Star Trek Franchise. Don’t let this muddy up your view, Stewart is fantastic as skinhead leader Darcy and it’s awesome to see him taking on roles like this.
Lastly, The only complaint that I have about the film [SPOILER] is that I would have liked to see Werm (Brent Werzner) get it in the end. He’s the reason The Ain’t Rights are put into the position they find themselves in and given all the mayhem it takes just for the last two survivors to make it out, I felt like a bit of justice was due. However, this is just me being nitpicky. The film is more about survival than revenge, and in reality, it ends right where it should.
Green Room is a film driven by both character and suspense. Not everyone is going to love it the way that I did, but it’s definitely worth your time and money. This is one of those unique films that has a killer original premise and doesn’t come around often enough.
GO SEE IT.