Green Room movie full length review - If you appreciate an original, economical, tense horror-thriller, you might want to make room in your life for some green.
Green Room is a common show business term for the area where performers relax while waiting for their turn on a theater stage or television program, or for guests waiting for their scheduled appearance on a talk show.
These rooms are rarely actually painted green, and no one definitely knows the origin of the term, but it now also refers to the crime-horror-thriller "Green Room" (R, 1:35). This is the third crime-thriller/horror film written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier (after 2007's "Murder Party" and 2013's "Blue Ruin"), but also bears a resemblance to another recent "Green" film. (More on that later.) The Ain't Rights is a northwestern U.S. punk rock band in search of a gig. This is the kind of group that parties so hard that they all pass out in their van in the middle of a corn field with the engine running and then siphon gas from a car in a nearby parking lot in order to get back on the road. After Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Joe Cole), and Tiger (Callum Turner) play a club that barely pays them enough for a tank of gas, a punk music blogger (David W. Thompson), who recently interviewed them, sends them to a better-paying, but remote club where his cousin works. The bar turns out to be full of skinheads whom the band intentionally antagonizes by starting their set with a cover of The Dead Kennedys' "Nazi Punks, F*** Off!" The Ain't Rights eventually win over the crowd with their original stuff, but when they're finished, the end of their set turns out to be just the beginning of their problems.
Just as the band members are about to leave the club, Pat runs back to the green room to retrieve a cell phone that Sam had left charging and he sees a young woman lying on the floor with a knife sticking out of her head. Pat quickly dials 911, but before he can fully explain what he saw, two bouncers named Justin and Gabe (Eric Edelstein and Macon Blair) take the band's cell phones and hustle them back into the green room. They're locked in, along with a club regular named Amber (Imogen Poots), and held at bay by Justin and his .357 Magnum. Gabe attempts to deal with the police and calls the club's owner (Patrick Stewart). The film then becomes a deadly game of cat-and-mouse between the intelligent, but ruthless owner and his violent henchmen and the resourceful but terrified group inside the green room.
"Green Room" is a solid and well-balanced horror/thriller. It's very dark, meaning the lighting in most of the film's scenes and the tone of the film. Saulnier uses all that darkness and the close quarters in many of those scenes to maximum effect and when he widens his lens or lightens up a scene, it's more of a shock to the system than a relief for the audience. In tone and in some of its content, this movie reminds me a bit of Eli Roth's 2015 cannibal extravaganza "The Green Inferno", but without the jungle and all that feasting on human flesh (well, mostly without flesh feasting). "Green Room" doesn't cross over into "torture porn", but it does have its brutal and bloody scenes. Its jungle is mostly narrow hallways, dark spaces and one very scary green room. Most of the story's tension comes from the psychological torture experienced by a few cornered young people not knowing what's going to happen or what to do next.
It's also very entertaining to watch Anton Yelchin, who usually plays innocent, clean-cut and humorous characters (e.g. in the latest "Star Trek" films and in 2015's charming romantic comedy "5 to 7") and Patrick Stewart, known on screen mostly for his strong, but sensitive leadership (in "Star Trek: The Next Generation") embrace their inner bad-ass. Unfortunately, a few questionable plot points range from vague to frustratingly nonsensical, but strong acting, effective visuals, a fresh and well-paced story and a consistently dark, foreboding tone mostly make up for the script's few deficiencies. If you appreciate an original, economical and tense horror/thriller, you should make room in your life for some green. "B+"