Screened Out – Green Room

By : Stephen Miller
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Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Imogen Poots

It’s always fun seeing a great Shakespearian actor – and a Starship Enterprise captain – play an unexpected role. In Green Room, Patrick Stewart is a white supremacist whose meeting hall features punk bands. When a wandering group of young musicians witnesses a murder, the evil man seeks to manage the damage. Meaning: kill the band, but in a way that makes it look like an accident, or their own fault.

Green Room is visceral and violent - not a film for the weak-of-stomach.

Green Room is visceral and violent – not a film for the weak-of-stomach.

Green Room is a gory, violent film with several knuckle-biting moments. Also, in the genre of horror thrillers, the setting is a slight departure from others.

Too bad much of Stewart’s business operation – and why the person gets murdered – is so confusing. Stewart is good, but his part should’ve been completely unforgettable: twisted and intriguing. Though the gimmick is unique, all of the characters and themes are still shallow, typical for these films. There are also moments when everything could go a lot quicker if these people acted as smart as they appear.

Yelchin (Scottie from the Star Trek movies; ironically not with Captain Picard) and Shawkat (Arrested Development) are part of a wandering punk band. They want to hearken back to the birth of punk. Meaning: no social media, limited use of cell phones, and even syphoning off some poor sucker’s gas tank for fuel.

When a gig leaves them high and dry, they pretty much have to accept a detour into the wilderness to play at a “rough” club. They’re given strong indication this place in the boonies – Stewart’s establishment – is pure evil. But, in the parlance of punk, fuck that. They’re into the risk, and they need the cash.

When the band members accidentally witness the murder, they gets locked in the club’s green room with a gun, the corpse, and the corpse’s best friend (Poots).

That’s’ the gimmick in this bloody standoff.

Then Stewart shows up; he plans to extract and execute these interlopers. For all the weapons and drugs he has, though, apparently he doesn’t have a good idea. He uses dogs and machetes and neo-Nazis.

This is writer/director Jerry Saulnier's second film and a solid-if-typical horror thriller.

This is writer/director Jerry Saulnier’s second film and a solid-if-typical horror thriller.

“Remember, we’re not a party. We’re a movement,” he reminds his young skinheads before he sends them in to scare out the band to their slaughter.

He gives the neo-Nazis in his special inner circle red laces for their boots.

Part of the fun is to see Captain Picard play a baddie. So, it’s sad his part isn’t more tactical or more wildly memorable. This should’ve been a role with a dozen quotable lines, and really, there are maybe two. Stewart plays it with gory gravitas, but it still feels like he needed something meatier in this meat grinder of a film.

Green Room is written and directed by Jerry Saulnier – his second flick after the equally bloody and tense, but far superior Blue RuinGreen Room 

To say Green Room’s plot is confusing for about 40 minutes is an understatement. Once things get settled into the standoff, though, everything simplifies. In fact, it all becomes a little too simple.

Ratings Key

See it now! Buy the DVD! Quote lines at parties!

Definitely worth the price of admission

It’s useful as a distraction

Maybe if someone else pays and you need a nap

Slightly worse than eternal damnation

Really, though, I only have one major gripe: if Saulnier is going to linger on some disgustingly bloody special effects, those parts better look perfect. A few here look like rubber smeared in fake blood.

Yet, in the category of horror-thriller, Green Room is a bit of a different beast – one where Captain Picard might tell gore fans to simply “engage.”

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