Substitute the alien from Alien, Michael Myers from Halloween, the zombies from Day of the Dead and Freddy from Nightmare on Elm Street for white supremacy, in Jeremy Saulter’s scariest film to date - Green Room.
A disillusioned punk band in search of a worthwhile gig, find one at a backwoods bar that happens to be owned by white supremacists. Things go along rocky yet successful until the band’s bassist (Anton Yelchin) stumbles in on a murder in the green room of the establishment. This forces the young band to realize they’re stuck in a house of horrors, being a key eye witness wrinkle in the shirts of a group of Nazi Punks lend by the bar owner (Patrick Stewart). The band must fight their way out….
For a movie about running into murderous Nazi’s, Green Room does depict the life of being in a band and touring in a van. Unfortunately the political dialogue of the lifestyle is written and acted in a way that belongings to the punks in Return of the Living Dead, as it seems to play as parody against how bands really go about touring in modern times. Something I feel Jeremy Saulnier doesn’t know too much about. Jeremy Saulnier however does capture the blind hopefulness of wanting to tour and showcase your music to strangers across a landscape as a means of promotion. Saulnier uses a soft piano score over slowed down scenes of the band performing to display the passion and the rushing moment of expressing yourself in song in front of an audience, which is awkwardly placed in between gritty scenes but gets the point across.
After it’s all said and done, things start truly taking off in the film when the young band arrive at the supremacist themed venue. The sound design is beyond striking, as the in house music in the Nazi bar completely surrounds your ears and later on becomes the perfect horror movie soundtrack with the likes of Metal, Hardcore and Grindcore tracks. This longingly coupled with the authentically graffiti covered seemingly urine drenched music venue, really brings the mayhem to life under the venue’s fluorescent glaze.
As our punk protagonists try to force their way to survival, you really get a sense of their fear and anxiety and in return you developed fear and anxiety for them. To the credit of the actors, everything is seen on their face and like Saulnier’s 2007 debut Murder Party; the antagonists are relentless, ruthless and unstoppable but this time in the most realistic way possible. Not to mention with the help of Patrick Stewart, who brings his most steely-eyed, cold and calculated performance to date as the leader of the pack.
As the violence ramps up, the realism is transformed with the film’s greenish grey tinge, almost brining to mind a Sci-Fi Horror element such as the movie Splice or Splinter making you forget at times that the creatures of the movie are just human. This matched with the sadistic nature of the angry antagonists, sobers you into the realization that real-life is way scarier than anything a movie could conjuring. And in a world of jump scares, hauntings and found footage populating the horror genre, Green Room puts the effort in pointing out what’s truly scary, with visceral tangible evidence of reality. Using practical effects and focused acting and intimidating scenarios we hope to never find ourselves in, which Jeremy Saulnier has become the professor of. In this film Nazi’s are the new zombies in Siege Horror.
And to really point out, Grindcore music has never been more appropriately used in a movie. For that, I salute you Mr. Saulnier.
…..Did I say there’s killer dogs in this?...Yup!