Green Room written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier (A24, Broad Green Pictures, Film Science, R, 95 min)

Starring Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner, David W. Thompson, Eric Edelstein, Macon Blair, Imogen Poots, and Patrick Stewart.

A Tough Genre to Master

When it comes to uncomfortable viewing, the horror/suspense genre takes the cake. The viewer knows most of the characters aren’t going to make it; the question becomes the “why” and the “how” of the demise.

The difficulty of the genre lies in replicating realism. Most days, killers aren’t stalking groups of friends a la I Know What You Did Last Summer. The writer and director must think carefully about the best possible way to conjure a scenario and lived-in characters or else the film portrays campiness.

The Last Show

Green Room largely threads the needle. The claustrophobic narrative depicts a hardcore punk band finishing up a tour. The Ain’t Rights eschew the modern marketing campaigns of the current generation of bands, sticking to the zine culture and small shows. When the last show of the tour falls through, the band takes a last-second gig in rural Oregon, skinhead country.

While the band intentionally pushes the audience buttons with a cover of the Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off,” danger begins when Pat (Anton Yelchin) walks into a murder scene in the green room.

Not wanting the police to discover the whereabouts of this neo-Nazi lair, the band becomes imprisoned while Darcy (an against type role from Patrick Stewart) strategizes about ways to limit collateral damage and remove witnesses.

What follows is a dark, gripping tale of survival as the hardcore punk band fights for its life.

Rich but unsettling, Green Room succeeds by building enough character and enough narrative plausibility to depict a nightmare scenario for a DIY band just looking to make enough money to buy the gas it takes to get home.

Verdict: 4 out of 5

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