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Review: Green Room – “A masterclass in pacing and suspense”

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green room

Green Room is a punk siege thriller that you should see as soon as it opens in the UK on the 13th of May. Written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin), Green Room stars Anton Yelchin (Fright Night, Star Trek), Imogen Poots (Need for Speed, 28 Weeks Later) and Sir Patrick Stewart (X-Men, Star Trek: The Next Generation).

Pat (Yelchin), Reece (Joe Cole – Peaky Blinders), Sam (Alia Shawkat – Whip It! )and Tiger (Callum Turner – Victor Frankenstein) are The Ain’t Rights – an under-the-radar punk band desperate for gigs and sucking petrol out of gas tanks just to stay on the road. When their next concert is pulled at the last minute, an interviewer hooks them up with his brother who is the promoter at an out-of-the-way club.

When they get to the venue they find an audience of skinheads who they rile up with a cover of “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”, but then win over with a blistering set. Everything seems to have actually turned out swimmingly until they return to their dressing room and accidentally witness a murder.

It quickly becomes clear that the owner’s promise of calling the cops and his guarantee of their safety is bullshit. The band take a hostage and barricade themselves in the green room, while the club’s owner, Darcy (Stewart), amasses his forces outside – laying siege to the terrified band. If The Ain’t Rights are to stand any chance of survival they are going to have to go on the offensive: tooling up with whatever they can find – fluorescent light bulbs and Stanley knives – to battle a violent and hardened gang with guns, machetes and attack dogs.

Saulnier used to have a hardcore band himself and he brings an authenticity to the punk aspects of Green Room that cannot be blagged. Bandmates, touring, performing, promoters: all of this rings absolutely true, and that this world feels so real makes what takes place within it all the scarier and thrilling.

As well as feeling authentically punk, Green Room is authentically human. Full of crap pep talks, bad plans, and understandable actions and reactions. Yelchin’s Pat reluctantly steps up to lead, assisted by the brilliant balls and bravado of Poots’s punk fan Amber, but he is not brave and he does not turn into an action hero. He is a regular dude just trying to survive. Sir Patrick Stewart’s “Darcy” is the same – not a villain, but a scarily reasonable business owner who is going to do anything it takes to protect himself and his empire.

Green Room is a meat grinder of a movie, a masterclass in pacing and suspense. It is breathless and brutal and punctuated with acts of harrowing violence that will leave you wincing and squirming. The confrontations are messy and real, and the consequences are sickening. No one walks anything off – wounds sustained gape and squirt and hurt like hell. Tough and intimidating, Green Room is flabbergastingly good filmmaking, full of spit and aggression.

5-out-of-5

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