At the time of writing this review, it's been just over a month since the shocking and tragic news of gifted Russian-born actor Anton Yelchin's death in a freak car accident. First off, R.I.P Anton Yelchin. Such a tragedy for someone so young and promising to pass. He was incredible in this, I felt he was really coming into his own as an actor. After watching Saulnier's excellent and understated Blue Ruin, the director immediately became one to watch out for. A director that knows how to direct characters with subtle, but with intensity and brutality as well.
It begins with the Ain't Rights, a punk band on their way to a gig that turns out to be a waste of time. After an uncomfortable social media interview, the band - consisting of Pat (Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Peaky Blinders' Joe Cole) and Tiger (Callum Turner) - are thrown a gig at a dingy bar in small-town Oregon. It's the type of place adorned with Confederate flags and fascist graffiti on the walls, and, in true punk style, the band introduce themselves with a rendition of Dead Kennedy's Nazi Punks F**k Off. After the gig, the group find themselves locked in a room holding an unlicensed gun after accidentally witnessing a brutal murder. The situation worsens when club owner and neo-Nazi party leader Darcy (Patrick Stewart) turns up to deal with the situation.
Few films ever get such a visceral reaction out of me, but Green Room managed to do that, and then some, delivering on many fronts as a contender for my favourite film of the year. Since the beginning of the year, A24 has been unstoppable, putting out some of the most unique and incredible genre movies to be released in quite some time.
Green Room is certainly violent and grim. Its sense of dread and brutality is unending and relentless, yet never overstays its welcome or becomes cartoon-ish or fetishistic. It could've very easily gone into Saw, Hostel or Martyrs territory, letting the bloodshed become the most memorable aspect of the experience, but it did something much more. Not only does the brutality feel real, unlike the aforementioned films, the characters feel totally believable and genuine, completely immersed in their roles. I have to say, the characters make the dumbest decision ever; I could have died laughing. Also every time they try to run a minute later they run back into the same room and hide. Dafuq lol? Okay so, the protagonists are naive and brash, yet fresh and relatable delinquents. The antagonists are subdued, quiet and strategic, yet animistic and complex. From a character standpoint, it is such a welcome and ultimately more human change of pace.
For a movie so steeped in violence, it's a very humanistic movie, filled with rich and complex characters that feel like they're apart of something completely real and also very intimate and small-scale. The story is not a black and white 'good vs evil' kind of thing, all characters have their own shortcomings and sympathetic sides, making for an incredibly dynamic cast. It's a debilitating film, yet done with the same amount of care and understatement as Blue Ruin. Very good, thus recommended.
Trailer with less spoilers ngee~