“After witnessing a murder, a punk rock band is forced into a vicious fight for survival against a group of maniacal skinheads.”
After missing this one in the theatre, I’ve been really wanting to see this. Amidst the “Oh my god, most brutal movie ever” and “Movie of the year” responses to it, I will admit I worried about it not quite living up to the hype. Unfortunately for those looking for a more balanced review, I will now jump on the hype train, because holy crap this movie is great.
First lets start with the director; Jeremy Saulnier has a near-perfect track record so far. With his goofy but fun debut in Murder Party, the stunning and brutal revenge picture Blue Ruin, and now Green Room, Saulnier has only shown improvement, and given his current trajectory, his next film is set up to snag itself an Oscar nomination or win him a Nobel Prize. Hyperbole perhaps, but the quality of his films keeps ramping up exponentially that I can’t even imagine what his next one will be. He’s a strong director, and a great writer. The backbone of his movies are simple, but he fills them with fabulous characters and manages to get himself the perfect actors for the roles.
So, let’s talk actors then. Starting with the recently, and tragically, deceased Anton Yelchin (Star Trek) as Pat. Yelchin delivers a fabulous performance, that serves to remind us how many great performances he will never get to give, highlighting what a loss to cinema his untimely passing was. The other significantly notable performance in the movie is from Patrick Stewart (X-Men) as Darcy; Stewart is one of the more frightening villains in a movie in recent memory. He feels like a menacing force of nature right up until the end of the film, and there’s a really interesting moment between him and Yelchin in the end of the film that I’ll just leave at that.
You also have appearances from some really great actors, there were no bad performances that I could find complaints with. Imogen Poots (Fright Night), Alia Shawkat (The Final Girls), Mark Webber (13 Sins), and a third return to Saulnier’s films, Macon Blair who is just great (as always). No one delivers a bad performance, and those performances help draw you into to the gritty and brutal world presented in Green Room. You also have a departure from what we are used to from actors like Stewart and Shawkat, so it’s interesting to watch on that level alone.
The most talked about element of the movie, besides the actors, seems to be the violence. Those familiar with Saulnier’s last film, Blue Ruin, likely won’t find much in here that is a departure, or something unexpected. The violence is graphic, visceral, and even hard to watch. It’s also presented unceremoniously; there are no music stingers, or close ups, it’s not exploitative, but it’s very realistic. The violence is presented as part of what would happen to this characters, rather than being the driving force in the movie.
This is one of the strongest horror films, and films in general that I’ve seen this year, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s dark, it’s gritty, and it’s even genuinely funny in places. See this movie, buy this movie, and make sure that Saulnier gets to make more movies.
MY RATING: *****