A couple of years ago, a filmmaker by the name of Jeremy Saulnier broke-out with a really excellent low-key film called Blue Ruin, which he made for 420,000 bucks. What was great about Blue Ruin was that it didn’t really have a lot of substance, but it was so well-constructed, visually engaging with such a subtle restraint for violence that you could tell immediately after seeing it, that Saulnier was a filmmaker to watch out for. I couldn’t wait to see what he did next.
Green Room happens to be what he did next, and it’s a film that firmly establishes Saulnier as as a fresh and fierce new voice who has more vision and focus with his third film, than most filmmakers have in their entire careers.
The story is this: A struggling punk band who go by the name “The Ain’t Rights” are traveling through the Pacific Northwest. On one of their stops, they meet Tad, a local radio host who sets them up with a gig outside town. They arrive at the club, which they come to find out is actually a neo-Nazi skinhead bar located in the woods. What seems merely to be a third-rate gig escalates into something much more sinister when the band is witness to an act of violence backstage that they weren’t meant to see. Now trapped backstage, they find themselves facing off against the club’s depraved owner, Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart), a man who will do anything to protect the secrets of his enterprise. But while Darcy and his henchmen think the band will be easy to get rid of, the band members prove themselves much more cunning and capable than anyone expected, turning the tables on their unsuspecting captors and setting the stage for the ultimate life-or-death showdown.
Saulnier is a master craftsman of tension, and this film grabs you by the throat and never lets go. Green Room is a series of increasingly intense set-pieces broken by these, almost random outbursts of violence…that I have to say, were quite shocking.