Escapism is an art form that needs to be mastered before it can be achieved. Determination, sheer bravery and unwavering fortitude are the elements needed to annihilate evil, a premise Green Room excels at showing.
Having won audience satisfaction from its premiere in Cannes last year, director Jeremy Saulnier’s American thriller is high on suspense. The film follows a group of desperate cash-strapped teens with a passion for live music, who unwittingly agree to play a gig in a rowdy underground club located in the woods. As they prepare to leave, they accidently come across a grizzly murder in the green room, and are forced to become reluctant hostages. Negotiating their lives through a locked door, the group face a gruesome game of elimination against ruthless club owner Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart) and his gang of skinheads.
From the subtle irony of the group’s name (“The Ain’t Rights”) to masking the loyalty of a savage dog, Saulnier’s film is intelligently executed, both in its plot and its ability to shock. Signs of humanity in the characters are spare as fear and thrills override their development amid the rapid pacing of the story. Patrick Stewart’s character lacks the menace needed in a villain and could be seen as the spearhead of a heist gang rather than a group of sadistic murderers. Imogen Poots’ despondent but strong Amber and Anton Yelchin’s sensitive Pat manage to display degrees of emotion besides fear, but their roles are similarly underdeveloped.
The pacing of a horror can be hit-or-miss: too slow and it can leave an audience frustrated, too fast and it may equally render them confused. Saulnier’s movie is a solid in-between at best. When action is predicted, or rather wanted, expectations are subverted and instead the film relies on the element of surprise, which works most of the time.
Inevitably, Green Room draws comparisons with its director’s earlier work, the highly praised Blue Ruins, but this latest is applaudable on its own merit. The premise may feel exhausted to horror fans but Saulnier manages to keep his audience invested with relentless suspense. This is a film that rocks in terror and rolls with the punches.
Green Room is released nationwide on 13th May 2016.
Watch the trailer for Green Room here: