“Green Room” is more evidence of Jeremy Saulnier as a very exciting young filmmaker

Green Room
Those of you who have seen Jeremy Saulnier’s previous movie Blue Ruin know just how talented a filmmaker he is. Now, with Green Room, he has doubled down on his mastery and upending of genre. This is a ridiculously entertaining thriller that doubles down on the blood, guts, and carnage, but never seems excessive. This is as close to art house as this sort of an affair can get. Saulnier is going to be an independent film rock star if he keeps this up, plain and simple. Green Room, opening this weekend, is a slightly more commercial flick than Blue Ruin, but both movies are singular experiences from a director to be reckoned with.

The film is a thriller that mostly takes place within the confined space of a punk rock club. A band, led by Pat (Anton Yelchin) and consisting of Sam (Alia Shawkat), among others, gets booked for a gig at a strange location after the previous one falls through. That doesn’t initially seem like a big deal, but when they arrive, what was said to be a place that was sort of on the Neo-Nazi side turns out to be a hardcore skinhead event. They do their punk rock show and are all set to quickly leave, but then they witness the aftermath of a murder. Confusion on all sides leads to them locking themselves in a green room with the body, one of the killers, and a witness (Imogen Poots), which ends up bringing out the owner of the club, a big bad dude named Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart). Turns out, Darcy is involved in a drug ring as well, so he’ll need all of these people dead before the cops come. Suffice to say, there’s more murder before the night is out. Saulnier writes and directs, with the cast, besides Poots, Shawkat, Stewart, and Yelchin, including Macon Blair, Joe Cole, Eric Edelstein, Kai Lennox, Mark Webber, Callum Turner, and more. It’s a dark story, to be sure, but it’s just a blast to watch unfold.

There were so many ways that this could have turned into nasty business, but Saulnier is too good of a writer and director for that to happen. To be sure, Stewart gets to have a grand old time playing an intense villain, while Yelchin gets to finally be a hero of sorts, but Saulnier’s work is what the real star is. The way he arranges the violence, the shot compositions, and the musical cues, it’s all tremendous work. His directing is still a bit more advanced than his writing, but his script is still strong. The direction though, is as good as any that I’ve seen in 2016 so far. Blue Ruin teased how good this filmmaker could be, and this builds on that promise.

Awards wise, it’s probably the Independent Spirit Awards or bust for Green Room. In general, a campaign most likely will be built around Stewart in Best Supporting Actor and possibly Saulnier in Best Original Screenplay, though in certain spots he could be pushed for Best Director. Again, these slots won’t likely be at the Oscars or anything of the sort, but genre outings do have places where they can shine. Time will tell if this is completely ignored or not, but there’s a chance that we could see the film get recognized here and there. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Overall, Green Room is a really entertaining thriller that is one of a number of quality movies opening this week. I’ll get to them all before the weekend, but this is about as good as any, so it’s something to definitely give a look to. Especially if you dug Blue Ruin or are a fan of Stewart, this is a chance to indulge in something really unusual but somehow still a lot of fun. Those with weak stomachs might struggle, but this is worth seeking out, I can assure you of that. Give this one a chance and I think you’ll find that you’ll be glad that you did…

Be sure to check out Green Room, in theaters starting this Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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