First, let's dispense with the "not a horror movie" argument. Let's leave it to Joe-Bob, who established the #1 rule decades ago... anyone can die at any moment. Oh, and the two most recognizable cast members (outside of the villainous leader, of course) are Anton Yelchin (the new Charlie Brewster and the new Chekhov) and Imogen Poots (who also happened to appear in the FRIGHT NIGHT remake opposite Yelchin).
We have the "Ain't Rights," a punk band promised a gig somewhere along the Oregon coast. That falls through, and a six-bucks-a-head set in a local diner certainly won't do as a consolation prize (let alone pay for the gas they usually siphon). So a last-resort connection gets them a somewhat more lucrative spot at an intimidating skinhead dive, which they have scarcely any choice but to accept. They don't find themselves in trouble so much for opening with a Dead Kennedys cover proclaiming just what "Nazi Punks" can do (amusingly, they're billed as the "Aren't Rights" at the venue, but the "Grammar Nazi" pun fails to materialize), but because just before they can safely hit the road once more, one of them pops back into the green room to retrieve a forgotten cell phone and sees something he shouldn't have. Yep--they've walked in on a murder scene, and the rules are frighteningly simple from that moment on--not one of the Ain't Rights (or Poots as Amber) is to be allowed to leave the scene alive. Their only temporary safety comes in the form of a barricaded door and a firearm they manage to liberate from the vicious guard stuck in the room with them--but by now, club owner and leader ("Remember, this is a movement--not a party!") Darcy (Patrick Stewart) has taken charge of the whole mess.
GREEN ROOM, written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier (sorry, I haven't seen BLUE RUIN yet, but I'm starting to sense a theme) builds suspense and terror with with both cold logic (it's very carefully established that it would not be in the best interests of the supremacists to simply obliterate the innocents on the spot) and believable characters on both sides. You won't find caricatures anywhere here. It scarcely takes an effort to side with the musicians facing up to blades, fangs and (if ABSOLUTELY necessary) firearms, but we're given experiences, ambitions and personal tastes (as this was filmed in 2015, the Prince reference is wryly ironic) beyond the simple "punk is a way of life" we get all too often. And much to the film's credit, the same attention is paid to most of the individual skinheads (the dog trainer who genuinely loves his animals even as he sics them on fellow humans stands out, and the murder that kicks off the subsequent mayhem is rooted in issues that mean nothing to the Ain't Rights but which will cause many a question of loyalty among the white-power cadre), rendering Stewart's calm and collected ringleader (he even takes a moment to apologize after losing his temper and assaulting one of his own team members) all the more terrifying.
GREEN ROOM earns comparisons to films going all the way back to THE EVIL DEAD in sheer brutality and intensity. And what it lacks in cinematic pyrotechnics it more than makes up for with roots firmly planted in reality. It may not wrap up each and every loose end to the satisfaction of the viewer, but if you're that viewer? You will cringe. You will gasp. And you will say "criss-cross applesauce." That's that.
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