Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
"Green Room" by director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin) edges close to torture porn in its depiction of violence, yet it remains riveting and authentic. Tiger (Callum Turner) and Pat (Anton Yelchin) are headers in a struggling punk band. Needing money, they agree to appear at a dive bar in the Pacific Northwest. Little do they know of the trouble that awaits.
The band plays a cover song which boils down to "Nazi Punks Fuck Off." They realize that this bar is not just a punk rock club but a white supremacist meeting ground. They narrowly avoid a violent ejection. While attempting to get paid, the band mates see that a fan has been gruesomely stabbed in her temple, just moments earlier. Dark blood pours onto the floor like toxic honey.
Pat attempts to call 911. The phones are taken from him by club bouncer Gabe (Macon Blair) who absurdly tells them not to worry in the least. The calm, measured voice of Darcy (Patrick Stewart) floats from behind the door further telling them that the unfortunate event is being well handled but that the band cannot leave. The kids are horrified, being faced with a gory and punctured body, slain only moments ago. Not to mention the fact that Big Justin (Eric Edelstein) has a gun on them, and a Nazi flag hangs on the wall in plain view.
The band decides to rush Big Justin. He falls to the ground as Tiger succeeds in subduing him. But the members are in purgatory having no communication and no real way to flee. Through it all, the grotesquely calm tone of Darcy means to assure the group that there is nothing to fear.
While the film at first feels like a punk riff on "Saw," it is not. The melodrama is realistically given and never is it overdone or gratuitous. The very real gore is tempered by binds of suspense, apprehension and Gallows Humor of the Creep or Scoundrel variety. Both Imogen Poots and Alia Shawcat have solid roles as the real leaders of the four who strive to keep the frontmen alive.
The film toys with audience assumptions. There are moments where one feels the kids are dead when suddenly they snap back to life. At such instances, the events toned in a nauseous tint make a grim 21st century tableaux, peopled with fat, porcine and angry men that could be taken from the German Expressionism of Otto Dix. Every scene is shaded in a virulent pea green or a sickly brown to great effect. No one element is sacred in this story; everyone and everything is locked in survival. Pit bull dogs are terrifingly given a fearsomeness only seen in "Jaws." In the midst of this horror, thankfully, there is a pluck and surprise worthy of Sherlock Holmes that points to "The Silence of the Lambs."
Although these characters are definately to be despised, "Green Room" also expresses the nihilism of hatred and the futility of revenge. This is an uncompromising tale, but one wonders if the musicians are not up against it from the start, as much from their nonchalant attitudes as they are from an enclave of dumb neo-nazis.
Write Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org