“We’re not keeping you here. You’re just staying.”
I missed Green Room when it was out in theatres but now that its available online, I have nothing but praise for this brutal, bloody, nail-biter of a film written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Murder Party). My brother used to say there were two kinds of punks; the clean “poseur” kind who always have their family’s cash to fall back on, and the dirty, gritty kind who barely survive. Young punk band the Aint-Rights who have to siphon gas for their van are distinctly in the latter category. Which is why even though none of them have any use for skinheads, they agree to play at a skinhead bar in hopes of getting enough cash to make it home. They can’t resist doing a cover of the Dead Kennedy’s Nazi Punks F—k Off as their opening number, which gets them threats and thrown bottles before winning over the crowd with their own original music. Sadly, all this turns out to be the least of their problems when they accidentally witness a murder backstage that puts the entire band into a life and death struggle with the bar’s vicious owner Darcy (Patrick Stewart, playing against type here in a tour de force of a performance that is both terrifying and mesmerizing), determined to wipe out all witnesses.
As Darcy will soon learn, the Aint-Rights are a helluva lot tougher and more resourceful than he ever could have imagined and the body count keeps increasing with the tension. It’s a 90-minute intense nightmare of guns, blades, and dogs that does not let up. But half the reason it works so well is because unlike so many horror movie characters we actually like and care about the Aint-Rights. There’s green-haired optimistic lead singer Tiger (Callum Turner of the War & Peace mini-series); band leader and certified bad-ass Reece (Joe Cole of Peaky Blinders); and, hard rocker gal Sam (Alia Shawkat of Arrested Development). Imogen Poots (Jane Eyre, She’s Funny That Way) is virtually unrecognizable as former skinhead, Amber, who has to join forces with the band. But the main protagonist and the movie’s heart is the late Anton Yelchin as bass player, Pat. Seeing how he was able to navigate both sensitive vulnerability and the heights of feral desperation and trauma during the film makes the loss of this promising young actor all the more poignant. RIP Anton.
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