BFI London Film Festival: Green Room

Green Room
Directed by Jeremy Saulnier

Starring Patrick Stewart, Imogen Poots, Anton Yelchin and Alia Shawkat

by Joanna Orland

Green Room is a perfect follow up to Blue Ruin, heightening the stakes, tension and gore of director Jeremy Saulnier’s first film.

Two years after Blue Ruin, Saulnier returns to the big screen with a darker, bleaker and scarier film.  Nudging his work up a notch from the thriller genre to full blown horror, Saulnier brings us a classic predator / prey premise of the backwoods horror genre, with some horrifically gory visuals as accompaniment.  Basically, if you thought Blue Ruin was tense, you may not survive a sitting of Green Room.

Following a band of punk rockers as they try to escape a group of neo-Nazi drug dealing murderers, the featuring of a large ensemble cast is a dead giveaway that the body count is going to be high.  The performances and cinematography are dramatically low key and bleak, while the tension is built slowly at first in a very realistic fashion.  The dynamic between the band members is explored only to the point of believing in them as people, enough to care if they live or die.  It’s truly the heinous acts of the villains that make the audience root for the punk band and their newest ally Amber (Imogen Poots) who is being hunted alongside them.

While the brutality of the neo-Nazi killers is enough to terrify anyone, it’s gang leader Patrick Stewart who gives this crew some credibility.  Doing his best Heisenberg impression, Stewart commands the group coolly and calmly, making the threat seem all the more sinister.  Stewart is perhaps an odd choice for this role, but he pulls it off well enough just by the fact that he’s Patrick Stewart doing what he does best – acting.

The ensemble cast of Amber and the punk band are the true hook of this film.  While we don’t know much about the characters, we like them.  They seem genuine, authentic and likable for punks.  The casting choices certainly help with this appeal as Anton Yelchin and Alia Shawkat are immediately likable in everything in which they feature.  And when their lives are at stake, the audience cares.  Especially given that we are immediately shown the stakes as body parts are gorily mangled quite early on in this stalking epic.

It’s the directing rather than the script or story that makes Green Room as effective of a horror film as it is.  Saulnier has proven himself to be a master at building tension, and clearly has a long and thrilling film career ahead of him.


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