The Green Room delivers a thrilling punks vs. Neo-Nazis genre movie thanks to a well executed screenplay, but lacks involving characters to make you invested in the carnage.
Down on their luck punk rockers The Ain’t Rights are finishing up a long and unsuccessful tour, and are about to call it quits when they get an unexpected booking at an isolated, run-down club deep in the backwoods of Oregon. What seems merely to be a third-rate gig escalates into something much more sinister when they witness an act of violence backstage that they weren’t meant to see. Now trapped backstage, they must face off against the club’s depraved owner, Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart), a man who will do anything to protect the secrets of his nefarious enterprise.
Well, punk is hardcore after all. Unfortunately for Ain’t Rights, the definition goes further than expected.
The Green Room is just a simple movie with a straightforward premise, but manages to become an engrossing horror thanks to its creative spin on the Don’t go into the Woods trope.
Instead of throwing a couple of young people at the hands of some big bad and have them run around while systematically get killed in order depending on the pre-determined surviving character that look the most endearing to audiences, the movie leaves the hapless youths trapped in the Green Room where they should decide whether to fight or run as their enemies wait outside to get rid of them one by one. It’s a clever trick that enables the Neo-Nazis to remain in control of the situation and steer it towards an end game that favors them.
This plot structure leads to unpredictable and thrilling turns with fitting bloody violence as the band members face knives, shotguns, and the occasional pitbull. While the movie is brisk, the story unravels in a methodical measured way that pushes its characters at the right time. This makes their actions believable and the psychological pressures they undergo palpable.
They’re brought to life by actors who do look like a band that sorely needs a shower and a hot meal. While Anthony Yelchin seems to be the lead in this story, Imogen Poots delivers a great performance as the unexpected ally against a club owner.
Though his name Darcy – played by Patrick Stewart – bears no hint of menace, the place he owns at the backwoods exceed its true reputation. Production value provides a fully realized world – set design gives the place a perceptible dirt, stink and lived-in look while cinematography works well with editing to articulate its small space.
The camera doesn’t focus too much on the wince inducing results of the punks vs. Neo-Nazis showdown and stays with the characters instead, so you do become interested as to who will survive long enough to get out the front door alive and in one piece.
However, we know nothing about these characters. As they get killed one by one, it’s curiosity instead of emotional investment, that will keep you glued to the screen to find out. Patrick Stewart does well but he’s miscast in a role that would have been better for JK Simmons.
Still, the movie does have a good understanding of its characters in the way they respond to the situation which makes them distinguishable from each other. The Green Room is able to truly capture a horrifying event in their lives and portray it in a convincing sequence of tension filled moments. As the movie finishes with a cathartic ending, you will feel both relieved and a bit exhausted, like an adrenaline high after a paintball game.
The Green Room is example of a rarity these days – a simple well executed horror that re-works familiar elements to new enjoyable results. It’s an unapologetic B-movie that’s not here to tell you about the twisted moral compass of extremists and the horrible people who take advantage of their blind devotion for their own gain. It shows that while we may know the potential dangers that lurk in the woods, we can never tell if we’re prepared enough to face the banal yet efficient evil in it.
My Rating: 8/10