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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Green Room movie review: waiting-room hell (#LFF2015)

by MaryAnn Johanson

Green Room green light

Blue Ruin’s Jeremy Saulnier is back with a smart, savage, dryly funny horror flick that has something to say about all-too-human monsters. No spoilers!
I’m “biast” (pro): love Blue Ruin, love Patrick Stewart and Anton Yelchin

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Blue Ruin filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier is back, and if Green Room isn’t quite as astonishing as that genre-busting flick, well… it was a very high bar that he set for himself with his previous film. And yet this one, like Ruin, is still miles apart from the usual gory thriller junk, even the rare junk that’s splattery good fun. The Ain’t Rights are a lo-fi analog punk band — they have “no social media presence” — headed up by Sam (Alia Shawkat: Night Moves) and Pat (Anton Yelchin: The Smurfs 2) who out of desperate financial necessity accept a gig in the middle-of-nowhere Pacific Northwest in a skinhead bar. But the ominous menace of the drippy creepy forest has nothing on the patrons of this establishment, or on its owner, Darcy (Patrick Stewart [Ted 2], chilling in a way we haven’t seen him before), as the band discovers when getting out of the green room after their set turns out to be more difficult than anyone — including Darcy and his manager, Gabe (Ruin’s Macon Blair, damn good again) — could have anticipated. Do the band members, who think they’re badass but are actually rather cuddly and adorable and generally harmless, have what it takes to survive this? Smart and savage and with the genre emphasis placed in some surprising places along the way, this is a movie by turns dryly funny and bitterly cynical and horrifically human: there is nothing supernatural here (again, as in Ruin), only all-too-realistic monsters in the neo-Nazis, who prove to be the sort of people who eat their own in the name of a hateful higher purpose, and so have no compunctions at all about doing to outsiders whatever needs doing in order to protect themselves. If this is horror, it is not as we know it, in the best possible way. It is horror with a newfound purpose and something to say that does not sacrifice shock and dread along the way.

viewed during the 59th BFI London Film Festival

green light 4 stars

Green Room (2016)
US/Canada release date: Apr 15 2016 | UK release date: May 13 2016

MPAA: rated R for strong brutal graphic violence, gory images, language and some drug content
BBFC: rated 18 (strong bloody violence, gore)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • Michael Lee

    I finally got around to seeing this and it was tense and wonderful. An unique take on the horror genre. My only complaint is I didn’t know anyone’s character’s names except Darcy (Stewart) but that was minor because they were all distinct visually, even the main skinheads.

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