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Green Room - Review

Green Room

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IF the premise – punk rockers vs neo-Nazis – suggests B-movie schlock, the execution of the events surrounding Green Room is anything but.

Rather, in the hands of writer-director Jeremy Saulnier, this is a powerhouse piece of indie cinema: tense, gripping, intelligent and gut wrenchingly violent.

Just as he proved with the similarly acclaimed Blue Ruin, Saulnier has a way of toying with genre expectation and bringing something interesting to the mix.

Hence, while Green Room sounds like a bog-standard survival thriller with an eye on ’70s grindhouse troupes, it’s a hell of a lot smarter than those labels suggest.

When down-on-their-luck punk band The Ain’t Rights are offered a paid gig at a remote club in backwoods Oregon, they have little choice but to accept. But the bar in question is run by neo Nazis and it’s The Ain’t Rights bad luck to stumble upon a fresh murder scene.

What ensues is a tense stand-off between band and Nazis that’s punctuated by bursts of extreme violence and tense negotiations designed to buy time or give one side the upper hand.

Speaking for the band is Anton Yelchin’s Pat, while leading the thugs is Patrick Stewart’s calculated Darcy. Caught in between are the likes of band members Alia Shawkat and Callum Turner, Macon Blair’s put upon club manager Gabe and Imogen Poots’ former Nazi groupie.

Not everyone will make it out alive, of course, but one of Saulnier’s trump cards is making you guess just who will perish in increasingly unpleasant ways.

And unlike more standard stalk and kill genre fare, you actually care about the primary characters, with Yelchin, Poots, Shawkat and Turner making particularly strong impressions as the youths on the hit-list.

Stewart, meanwhile, exudes menace as the Nazi leader, striking fear whilst remaining calm, yet hinting at a volatility just waiting to be unleashed.

If the characterisation is notably strong, so too are the narrative twists and turns that genuinely keep viewers on the edge of their seats, with the tension unrelenting once the bodies start to drop.

But even then, Saulnier maintains a fine balance between the tautness and some of his trademark black humour, which gives rise to uneasy chuckles at various points along the way: either because of the character insights they afford or the audacity of what has just happened.

All told, Green Room is raw, gritty, witty, sometimes sickening, continually pulse-quickening thriller that holds you tightly in its grip from start to finish.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 94mins
UK Release Date: May 13, 2016