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article imageReview: ‘Green Room’ is the antithesis of calm Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 30, 2016 in Entertainment
‘Green Room’ is a thriller that captivates audiences with relentless intensity as a punk band must fight for their lives against a group skinheads.
Many young, unsigned musicians demonstrate their passion for their art by loading their equipment into the back of a van, going on tour and performing in divvy venues with the hopes audiences will appreciate what they have to offer… and they do it all on their own dime. It’s not about profit – because there likely won’t be much if any – but the experience. Unfortunately such circumstances are also fertile ground for things to go wrong. In Green Room, a punk band finds out just how wrong things can get.
The band (Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole and Callum Turner) is on the last leg of its cross-country tour; out of money and energy, they’re ready to head home. But when their last gig turns into a bust, they agree to add one more show in a rougher club frequented by jackbooted skinheads. They barely survive the performance, but are thankfully paid enough to avoid having to pilfer their way home. Except while loading up the van, they inadvertently witness a murder. Now trapped in the club with the killers, they barricade the door and struggle to find a way to make it out alive.
From the moment the band arrives at the club and sets eyes on their soon-to-be audience, the intensity begins to rise. Their first song selection doesn’t help matters, but things appear to go relatively well as the scene transitions to a slow-motion montage set to calmer music. Shortly after, the “fit hits the shan” and the atmosphere grows increasingly tenser. It eventually plateaus, but never decreases. Although he’s only made three features, this is writer/director Jeremy Saulnier’s specialty. The result is a 90-minute, edge-of-your-seat thriller that never lets up; but consequently feels somewhat longer than it is actually. The oft-playing punk track in the background also contributes to the aggressive and oppressive mood of the film.
The characters are held hostage in an escapable backroom, occasionally breaking out to the main room before having to retreat. The other principal location is just outside the building, where their captors can be seen planning their next moves. The minimal number of settings enhances the feeling of being trapped as there literally seems to be nowhere to run. In addition, the criminals’ ability to contain the situation speaks to their professionalism as well as the group’s improbability of surviving.
The action is realistic in the sense that the scared band doesn’t suddenly become combat experts. They use what’s at hand, and are often clumsy and impulsive. Similarly, although their enemies are more prepared and experienced, they simply appear as thugs to whom violence comes easier but not necessarily more adeptly. The kills – from both sides – are sudden, brutal and sometimes even unexpected.
Yelchin is excellent as the reluctant hero trying to keep a level head in the midst of an extremely stressful situation. Shawkat is his equal in this regard as their characters take turns debating their options. They are joined by Imogen Poots whose voice can always be heard in the background demanding action while also reminding everyone of how frightened they should be of the skinheads. Most surprising is Patrick Stewart’s role as the villainous leader, Darcy, who is infallibly calm. He chillingly uses the same tone to negotiate with the band as he does to order the deaths, taking a flawless departure from his typically nobler on-screen appearances.
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots and Alia Shawkat
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