GREEN ROOM, US, 2015. Starring Anton Yeltchin, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart, Alia Shawkat, Macon Blair. Directed by Jeremy Saulnier. 95 minutes. Rated R (High impact violence).
The green room is generally where performers wait before they go on stage, before they go on the television set, a place for a drink, conversation and relaxation. Definitely not so here.
A great deal of the film takes place in a shabby club in rural Oregon where the green room is anything but. It becomes the setting for violent action, young people being locked in, violently threatened, challenged as to how they will get out – and the green room has very little green, rather dingy colours with dominant dark and light grey.
But, who are these young people? They are members of a punk rock group looking for gigs around the US West Coast, singing their punk rock songs, dressed in grungy style, and their looks, hair, accordingly. In fact, the writer-director, Jeremy Saulnier, grew up with punk rock, was a member of bands, and is paying something of a tribute to his upbringing and his tastes in portraying this group – led by actor Anton Yelchin, with Alia Shawkat as manager.
After a less than successful episode with minimal pay, they are recommended to go to Oregon where they can perform and be better paid. Mistake. Big mistake.
Out in the Oregon woods, this club is a venue for neo-Nazis, the men looking as if they belong to extreme bikie clubs, tough women in attendance, listening to the music, some seemingly in revolt against the music, but the players managing to survive and be on their way except that they have to go into the green room to pick up a mobile phone – where there has been a murder.
Not only are the members of the group trapped in the green room, they try to negotiate their way out, are reassured that the police are coming – but gradually, they experience the menace of the neo-Nazi leader, an ageing skinhead who organises meetings for American rights, and played with ugly menace by Patrick Stewart.
Also in the room is one of the local girls, played by Imogen Poots, who also wants to get out.
Long ago Agatha Christie wrote one of her novels with the characters being picked off one by one, a basic plot device used by many stories, And There Were None… Well, if not quite none, then possibly two if there is a romantic vein in the plot.
And so, the musicians try to find ways of getting out of the room, out of the basement they discover, out of the building, but gradually meet their fate. The main player explains, twice, a paintball contest where the amateurs defeated the professional, so…
The group would never have envisaged this kind of catastrophe after their performance and have to work out their fears, the desire to live, their ability to help one another – until a final confrontation in the woods where justice is seen to be done.
This is a thriller with menace and horror touches – the make-up artists with a great penchant for cuts and slashes. Jeremy Saulnier’s previous film, Blue Ruin, also explored themes of violence.
Released May 12th
Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
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