Green Room came and went through my town about a month ago, and it took me some time to procure a copy in order to watch it. I’d like to say that I was completely indifferent and reserved my judgment, but I was super excited to see this movie. Thankfully, it lived up to the hype.
This isn’t a movie that I’d recommend to anyone. If you enjoy violence that’s taken seriously than this is your film. It will take you on one dark, sadistic journey. But if you enjoy slapstick tongue and cheek, evil-dead type horror, than this is not your bag of goodies. While watching it with friends and family, I found them turning away from several scenes, they enjoyed the movie, but I prepped them for it. The violence will go from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds, in a Cronenberg sort of way—in fact the arm bar scene in Green Room took me back to The Fly. I enjoy this approach to violence in movies, books, and what have you. When a director can actually pull off the short-sharp-shock of it, I appreciate it all the more.
The story takes the right amount of time to get off the ground. It starts with a day in the life of a punk band. They play a seedy Mexican bar, and do an interview with an independent podcaster. The director sets up the archetypes for each of the character through as little dialogue as possible. The ballsy singer, the physical drummer, the maternal lead guitarist who pays the bills (Shawcat), and the bassist leader, played by the now deceased Anton Yelchin—2016 sucks, man.
The band syphons gas and does other punk band stuff—like I’d know—until they end up at a white supremacist club in Oregon. Interestingly enough, the punk performances are off set by ambient, almost slow motion scenes, which adds to the sense of foreboding. Rather than a loud, captivating moment, where the crowd gets lost in the band, the neo-nazis stand and stare at the performance as a predator might prey. When Antwon accidentally walks in on a murder scene, the shit hits the fan, and the band locks themselves in the green room.
Last week, I spoke of the Conjuring 2 being an homage the golden age of supernatural horror from the late seventies and early eighties. Green Room is an homage to the ultra-violent siege horror films of the seventies. Films like the Hills Have Eyes, Last House on the Left, and Straw Dogs. Films that, for the most part, don’t hold up anymore, but nevertheless shocked audiences at the time. The recent remakes do hold up, and are absolutely worth a viewing, especially the recent Last House on the Left, the trailer still gives me chills.
In essence, these movies are about nice people doing terrible things in order to survive. Normally, the good guys do something to piss of the bad guys and end up in a Winnebago, cottage or in this case, Green Room. They defend it against several different waves of attacks. They use their wits, and whatever’s at their disposal, to beat out the bad guys. In Straw Dogs, the attackers are drunken towns folk fired up in a mob mentality, the killers in the original Last House on the Left are laughable dope fiends, and Hills Have Eyes are radioactive red-necks.
But the neo-Nazis in Green Room add another level of tension. Sure, red-laced hot heads attack the Green Room, but the man that organizes their attacks is Ice-Cold. Patrick Stewart’s character sees the band of punkers as a regrettable inconvenience that needs to disappear. He’s a professional bad guy, this is his club, he knows the ins and outs. He has men, dogs, knives and guns. The punk band has a box cutter, and despite their tough façade, they’re mostly whimps. In fact, Anton Yelchin channels Hudson from Aliens; he shifts from the whiny bitch to the lunatic hero by the end—kind of.
I say “kind of,” because Green Room has no hero. By the end, the term “monster” becomes relative, and that’s the point. I repeat, this is about nice people stooping to the level of the people that are hunting them. The Cat-and Mouse game goes about as good as you’d expect, but hold out until the end, I think you’ll be rewarded; It’s about as happy an ending as you can get in a film like this.