Thursday, 28 April 2016

Review: Green Room

Green Room
Cert: 18 / 95 mins / Dir. Jeremy Saulnier / Trailer

Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier's anticipated follow-up to disingquiet revenge thriller Blue Ruin gets off to a similarly low-key start, with a colour-palette stripped of all warmth and with a faint air of restless dissatisfaction. And that's the way it'll stay throughout this nihilistic road-trip movie...

Young garage-punk band, The Ain't Rights are gigging their way across America, trying to build enough funds on the way to pay for some studio time. An interviewer who owes them a favour sets them up with a show in backwater Oregon, which turns out to be a neo-Nazi hangout. When the group witness a murder after their set, it becomes apparent that the venue's owner has no problem in ensuring they won't tell anyone about what they've seen.

Anton Yelchin and Alia Shawkat quickly take the lead as the band's two primary members, their affectation of post-modern lethargy giving way to adrenalised naivety as Patrick Stewart roams around outside giving orders*1 to his own private army of shaven-headed goons. This will get messy. It should also be said that this film is an 18 certifcate for a reason. The BBFC title card warns of "strong bloody violence, gore" and that's not an exaggeration. Saulnier doesn't rely on the effects and they're fairly sporadically used, but when it's time to release the dogs (literally as well as metaphorically), he doesn't hold back.

The strongest point in the film's favour is that it doesn't build to the climactic showdown which any other movie would go for. Instead we get a relentlessly grim dusk-'til-dawn tale of uncertain survival horror where all bets are off when it comes to who'll see the credits roll. As a story, Green Room has all the urgency of Blue Ruin, but not the emotional desperation. As a result, it doesn't feel as focused as its predecessor. Although as cinematic odes to punk go, I suspect that's all entirely intentional.

For anyone who's winced and face-palmed throughout a 'music based' movie like Begin Again, Green Room is the dirty, overdriven antidote...

Loses a point for mumbled dialogue, though. Come on sound-department, it's not difficult.

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Blue Ruin, maybe even a bit of Hostel (although nowhere near as exploitative, obviously).

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
The shootings and stabbings will look meatier on the big screen, but it's not essential.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Cast, possibly; director, not quite.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I won't.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: Ironically enough, the sound department for this film (yeah, the one I've just had a pop at) features Justine Baker and Tyler Newhouse, both of whom worked on the audio for The Force Awakens.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…
*1 With, it has to be said, an accent that comes with a self-deprecating sub-heading of "New York • London • Huddersfield". It's never at Colin Farrell-level, but I was having a hard time working out if his character had moved to the States from the skinhead scene in the UK, or he just had a multiple-personality disorder…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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