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Film Review: Green Room (2015)

Director and Writer: Jeremy Saulnier

Main Cast: Anton Yelchin, Patrick Stewart, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, and Callum Turner.

Rating: 4/5 on Letterboxd

Synopsis: A punk rock band called the “Ain’t Rights” finds themselves trapped in a skinhead venue after witnessing an unsettling crime. Surrounded by violence and hate, they band together (pun intended) to dismantle Neo-Nazism.

Visual Art of Pat (Anton Yelchin) from Green Room by Madison Fink (moi)

The authenticity of Green Room promotes personal immersion. Jeremy Saulnier, the director and writer, spoke to the AV Club about his punk-filled past, “Nazi skinheads were at the shows I went to back in Washington D.C. It was a little scary. I was young. I was part of the hardcore punk scene, going to shows every other weekend. I was in a hardcore band. All my friends were in the punk scene . . . We were filmmakers, and loved metal. Big fans of ’80s and ’90s rap. For me, I was very athletic throughout youth, so it was a very physical expression—much like filmmaking” (Sam Fragoso, 2016).

The meat and potatoes of this film are solid. Directing, acting, cinematography, production design, sound design, etc. I recommend viewing Green Room in a very dark room to counteract the low-contrast lighting. If Universal Studios ever produced a Green Room Halloween Horror Nights maze, I would be slamming into walls because of how dark most of the scenes were. I think every film studio assumes that their target audience is a horde of bats.

Music-centered films usually have decent sound design, but I can tell how much effort Saulnier and his team put into Green Room. The foley artists, in particular, really enhance the immersion I mentioned before. Thank you Justine Baker, Alex Carpenter, and Chris Chae for all of the bone-crushing, blood splashing, blow landing, and foot-trampling sounds. I would deem Green Room one of A24's grittiest films, which is saying a lot given the company's impressive horror lineup. I love horror movies, so I'm no stranger to guts or grime (and creepy balloon activities, thanks to The Poughkeepsie Tapes.) If you're squeamish, have no fear, the parent's guide is here! There are bursts of intense gore, but nothing stays on screen for a long time.

As for thematic elements, it’s not as simple as “right” or “left.” I think it boils down to the fact that the Ain’t Rights have formed a community, whereas the skinheads are only part of a pseudo club. Red ladder-laced boots (the film is set in rural Oregon), shaved heads, and stiff leather are what connect the skinheads in Green Room. Their disquieting leader, Darcy (Patrick Stewart), is at the pinnacle of their food chain. Everyone but Darcy is disposable, which means that there is no real sense of community, only hierarchy. He manipulates conformity to promote violence and terror within his club. The Ain’t Rights wear whatever the hell they want. Pat (Anton Yelchin) sports a t-shirt, skinny jeans, and generic canvas shoes. The rest of his crew is adorned in similar attire. You could be wearing a Garfield t-shirt and clown shoes and still consider yourself "punk," in my opinion. The music connects us all.

Darcy’s crew is composed of kids playing dress-up, controlled by a hive mentality, whereas the Ain’t Rights are genuinely faithful to their unique political values, morals, and personalities. Who are the real "sheeple" in this situation?

Listen to the Ain’t Rights’ cover of “Nazi Punks” by Dead Kennedys on Spotify and YouTube.

Watch Green Room for FREE on Kanopy. All you need is a library card! Or, borrow the DVD/Blu-ray from your public library (like I did.) Support your local library! Rent Green Room for various prices on Redbox, Amazon, Vudu, Apple TV, Google Play, and YouTube.


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