There’s something thrilling about punk rock on film. The wild and pissed off nature of it lends itself to any number of scenarios. However, very few films have captured that nature in the way Green Room does. When punk band The Ain’t Rights walk into a room full of Neo-Nazis and launch into a cover of The Dead Kennedys‘ ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’ it taps into the rebellion that lies at the heart of that scene. That that moment is encamped in a film that takes the siege horror genre and twists it in a whole manner of fucked up ways is just an added bonus.
For after that set The Ain’t Rights return to the green room to discover a corpse. From there, they end up locked inside said room with an unwilling patron of the bar (Imogen Poots) and a very big man with a very big gun. Outside the room, Darcy (Patrick Stewart) – the leader of the group – gets his troops together and makes plans to remove this problem.
What follows is in many ways a classic siege film. However, there are enough twists and turns here that you genuinely get caught off guard. When the violence comes, it is reminiscent of films like The Last House on the Left and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre due to the abrupt and brutal nature of it. There are no superhuman levels of perseverance here. When they get hit, they go down, and they die in horrible ways. If you have a weak stomach, this is not the film for you even if it does have a vein of black humour running through it.
The plot should be avoided so you can enjoy all the surprises as they come but it is no spoiler to say that Patrick Stewart is great. What might shock is the role he is in. Darcy is an evil man, but unlike the stereotypes of the far right, he is not an idiot. Everything he says is carefully calculated in order to get what he wants, and that famous voice adds a smoothness to this villain that makes him unique.
The show is almost stolen from him, however, by Macon Blair, who played the lead role in Jeremy Saulnier’s last film, Blue Ruin. As the manager of the bar, he could have been a very simple character, but there is a fear lurking behind his eyes that makes sure he never is. He is a man who seems lost in the world he’s found himself in and there is a silent plea for help in most of his actions.
Green Room is a brutal and unsettling film. It puts violence on the screen in a way that makes you flinch at every single act of it. It also continues to cement Jeremy Saulnier as a director to watch. This is his second film in a row that has managed to take a genre and work in it his own image. Creating unsettling pieces of cinema that leave you questioning what you have just seen. If you have the stomach to handle it, this is one you won’t want to miss.