Movie review of “Green Room”: This no-frills thriller, about a punk-rock band fighting for survival against ultraviolent white-supremacist skinheads, is one nasty piece of work — in a good way. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
“Green Room” is one nasty piece of work. And I mean that in a good way.
It’s a no-frills thriller that chills with the remorseless intensity of its storytelling.
Deep in the dank backwoods of rural Oregon, the members of a punk-rock band are fighting for their lives against a gang of ultraviolent white-supremacist skinheads, and their odds of survival don’t look good. They’ve seen something they shouldn’t have and now need to be silenced to keep the skinheads’ deadly secret safe.
Movie Review ★★★
‘Green Room,’ with Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner, Joe Cole. Written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier. 95 minutes. Rated R for strong brutal graphic violence, gory images, language and some drug content. Several theaters.
The four musicians are trapped in a locked room — the green room of the title — of a grody dance hall. On the other side of the door, the leader of the supremacists (played by a bearded and almost unrecognizable Patrick Stewart) invites them, in even and unemotional tones, to come out to meet their fate.
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After a relatively brief setup sequence in which the band members — four scuffling young musicians played by Alia Shawkat, Anton Yelchin, Callum Turner and Joe Cole — are introduced, a sense of almost suffocating menace infuses every minute from then on. The menace is there in the hostile stares that greet the group when they arrive at the club. It’s there in the slam dancing of the club patrons responding to the band’s raging music. And once the music stops and that door locks, the menace mutates to violence.
It’s decidedly low-tech violence, delivered with a few pistols, a box cutter, a couple of machetes, a shotgun or two and a couple of vicious dogs. Beware the dogs! They rip. They tear. They kill.
Writer-director Jeremy Saulnier (whose previous movie, 2013’s “Blue Ruin,” has earned a reputation as a gritty, well-observed indie cult classic) keeps the focus tight. One room! Throbbing with fear! And within that room his actors reveal unexpected depths of their characters.
Three characters stand out: Stewart’s deadly skinhead boss; a young gang member, played by Imogen Poots, who becomes allied with the band members and develops into a resourceful and deadly survivor; and Yelchin’s beleaguered musician, who is grievously injured as he battles to stay alive.
As the number of characters dwindles amid the bloody carnage, “Green Room” tightens its grip on the audience and, like those deadly dogs, just won’t let go.