Review: Punk band faces off with Nazis in ‘Green Room’
Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart are on opposite ends of a violent standoff in this gritty genre thriller
“Green Room” is a nasty little thriller with a grim worldview. No use in waiting around for things to lighten up, they only get darker as it moves along.
Jeremy Saulnier, whose 2013 thriller “Blue Ruin,” was another gritty genre tale, writes and directs this seedy story about a punk band forced to fight their way out of a club filled with neo-Nazi skinheads. He has a gift for creating nail-biting tension and gets superb performances from his cast, but storywise he paints himself into a corner from which he can’t escape.
Anton Yelchin is Pat, bass player for the Ain’t Rights, who get booked to play a dirtbag club outside Portland, Oregon. On his way out of the gig, Pat sees a dead body in the club’s green room, which leads to a stand-off between his band and the gang of skinhead thugs who runs the club.
Patrick Stewart is chilling as the club owner, whose serene calm in the face of chaos implies he’s done this dance before. His henchmen are mostly bumbling fools, though Macon Blair (who starred in “Blue Ruin”) leaves an impression as the club’s reluctant manager.
“Green Room” is not only thematically dark, but it’s visually pitch black, and unfortunately, a lot of the action — particularly late in the film — is tough to decipher on screen. It’s hard to keep up with things when you literally can’t see them.
Back in the ’90s, “Green Room” would have fit neatly into the post-Tarantino movement, where bloodletting tales of lowlifes were their own genre. It’s not clever enough to rank with the best of them, but it has a hardcore edge Tarantino himself would likely appreciate.
Rated R: for strong brutal graphic violence, gory images, language and some drug content
Running time: 95 minutes