Jeremy Sauliner’s Green Room is one of the greatest siege films of the last 20 odd years. Brimming with intensity, the film pulls no punches and puts the audience (and it’s characters) through the wringer.
The story starts with the Ain’t Rights a struggling punk band that truly embrace the punk ethos. Siphoning petrol to get to gigs and getting paid pittances when they do play, the band is all about the music, man. Well maybe, they also could be on the verge of breaking up but it sure beats a boring 9 to 5 job. With all these trimmings this could be a kick off point for a great road movie but when the group is offered a gig that is mostly ‘boots and braces’ (i.e Neo Nazi skinheads) for 350 bucks, well a gig is a gig. After playing a set including the Dead Kennedys’ Nazi Punks Fuck Off, the band is about to grab the cash and run when they come across a murder in one of the back rooms and in the interests of self preservation lock themselves in the green room of the venue. From here it is game on.
Sauliner expertly tightens the straps with each passing minute, the band is trapped in a room with one way in and one way out, in a highly volatile situation and the film doesn’t waste a moment. The odds are stacked against them and violence seems not only inevitable but also ready to break out at any time. You feel the danger and in turn the tension that comes from that feeling.
The acting in Green Room helps ground the film and at the same time heighten the sometimes unbearable tension. Yelchin, Poots, Blair and Patrick Stewart are the standouts of an outstanding cast. With Patrick Stewart taking the mantle as one of the scariest characters in a film ever. His portrayal as venue owner Darcy is cold, chilling and so matter-of-fact when dealing with murder it makes your skin crawl.
As mentioned before violence never seems far away in Green Room and when it hits, hoo boy – does it hit. It is hard, graphic and painful. There is no real ceremony to it either, it just happens, its ugly and you feel every slice, stab, gunshot and bone breaking moment. However this isn’t to say the film is gratuitous, it is very measured and certainly is not an all out bloodfest. Despite the carnage (the bands first foray outside of the green room is punishing to watch), Sauliner still manages some moments of levity, the band members’ answers to the desert island band question at the beginning of the film are far different when they do it again before making a run for it. It is the little moments like that which help elevate this film to the level which it sits.
Green Room is amazing from start to finish and after Blue Ruin this film proves that Sauliner has a long career ahead of him and I cannot wait until his next film.