Starring: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Running Time: 95 mins
Green Room is an American film about a punk band who, after witnessing a murder at one of their venues, find themselves under threat from violent neo-Nazi fanatics while trapped in the green room.
At times a strikingly gruesome and claustrophobic thriller, and at others rather underwhelming, Green Room may not have the intensity and consistency to be one of the best horror movies of recent years, but it does still provide an intriguing and often entertaining watch, pitting a group of innocent band members against a sinister group of neo-Nazis.
Above all, the film’s violence and often gruesome action is where its most intense moments come from. It never oversteps the mark, and while some of the gore may seem a little much, its use of violence only adds to the sense of threat and peril at play here, brilliantly walking a tightrope on which that lesser films would have so easily fallen towards gratuitous violence.
With an explosive start that ramps up the excitement and fear factor brilliantly over the course of the first half an hour, Green Room is far from a dull watch in its early stages, with that brutal action complemented well by a clever air of mystery, as the band members – stuck in the green room – negotiate with the fanatical owners of the venue through a locked door, unsure of what really lies on the other side.
It’s a great premise that’s executed really well at times, although what I found disappointing was that the film shows you the neo-Nazis on the other side of the door in the first act, rather than leaving it up to the imagination, which is always scarier.
Still, with good intensity early on, and spurts of exciting and rather frightening violence, Green Room is a strong starter, continuing well with a sense of peril and life-or-death stakes that ramp up over the first part of its second act.
Unfortunately, the movie takes somewhat of a downward turn in its latter half, failing to bring that same refreshing air of excitement and mystery to the table with a frustrating shift in direction and tone to a more eerie, patient thriller.
Its pacing isn’t problematic, although the film’s intensity does suffer somewhat, but the lack of immediate threat – perhaps on the other side of a door or surrounding our characters in the building – is a real disappointment, and even though Green Room tries to continue its impressive fear factor with bursts of violence and dramatic twists, it never has that brilliant blend of claustrophobia and mystery that worked so well early on.
And finally, despite a collection of energetic performances across the board, Green Room really struggles to hit the mark when it comes to good character development. A simple, sharp horror movie doesn’t need bounds of character depth or backstory, but the band members and most of the neo-Nazis just felt very superficial as people, as if this story could have been just as easily told with a bunch of different characters in an entirely different situation.
Overall, then, Green Room isn’t quite perfect. It starts really strongly, and with bursts of exciting and frightening violence that doesn’t step over the line, as well as a clever air of mystery and claustrophobia, its early stages make for gripping viewing. However, it takes a shift in tone and style in the latter stages, and although it tries to keep up the same intensity, there’s never really the same fear factor to be seen, and that’s why I’m giving Green Room a 7.5.