The Daily Gamecock

'Green Room' a unique horror film for audiences

<p>"Green Room" is a high-spirited horror-thriller that follows a group of young punk rockers as they fight various antagonists such as neo-Nazis and flesh-eating dogs.</p>
"Green Room" is a high-spirited horror-thriller that follows a group of young punk rockers as they fight various antagonists such as neo-Nazis and flesh-eating dogs.

As practical as it is gory, horror-­thriller “Green Room” is nothing if not unique.

More lighthearted than the typical crime thriller, more believable than typical horror and more bloody than typical action, “Green Room” does its job well, and with a flavor that’s entirely its own.

The third feature from director Jeremy Saulnier, the film fires on every cylinder, with the exception of script and score. High ­on ­gore, low ­on ­budget and thorough on the details, “Green Room” is a sort of “little engine that could” among the recent crop of horror-­thrillers and manages to balance reality and eerie danger most successfully.

The film revolves around the struggling and charming punk rock band the Ain’t Rights. Choosing the Ain’t Rights as protagonists and the characters with which the audience would identify was a classic, horror-­genre choice on the part of the film’s creators — the band is comprised of a few harmless kids. The “lovable kids wander into terrible danger” prototype is one common to the horror genre, but “Green Room” is able to keep this archetype fresh as the band members receive a lengthy introduction at the beginning of the film and are able to show off their unique, punk rock personalities. The young actors behind these characters give performances that are solid and real, most especially indie darling Anton Yelchin.

The film successfully attempts to fully suture the band to the audience through this introduction ­— in fact, the forging of this bond between the character and viewer may even be slightly overdone. The opening of the film features perhaps a few too many “kodak moments” for the band with slow motion camera work, sappy scoring and over-­dramatic emotion. The overly heartwarming feel of this beginning is one of only a few flaws in the film, however, and does exist only to connect the screen as completely as possible to the human being watching it.

The teen spirit and wanderlust moments fortunately end soon when the Ain’t Rights get a gig at an isolated venue in Oregon. The gig sets off a chain of events that lead audiences to the heart of “Green Room.” The venue is overseen by sinister Nazi­ sympathizer Darcy, played with characteristic gravity by Patrick Stewart. Darcy’s bar features regulars that seem to also hold views that are anti­-Semitic and racist, which doesn’t bode well for the Ain’t Rights. The Ain’t Rights are punk rock, but they aren’t Nazis, and they make that clear when they begin their set with a rendition of the Dead Kennedys “Nazi Punks F­­k Off.”

The ideological disconnect between the band and their audience is only the beginning of a host of problems that soon fall upon the Ain’t Rights. The band next finds themselves hostages of diabolical neo­-Nazis after a member, going back to find a cell phone, happens upon a murder instead. Their hostage situation leads to a number of antagonizers including flesh-­eating dogs and drug dealers.

Accompanying the band is Amber, a sort of “refuge” from the Nazi punk venue/lair. Played by Imogen Poots, whose throaty delivery is spot-­on aside from a few moments when she lays on the angst with a bit of a heavy hand, Amber serves the role of unlikely ally in the film and, furthermore, provides the film with a bit of female flair. While many horror-­thrillers portray women as sobbing victims or sex objects, the character of Amber makes “Green Room” a more evolved and empowering film than a typical film of this genre.

Without disclosing the specific deaths and trials of the film’s characters, it can be said that “Green Room” provides a very respectable amount of thrills, without crossing over into the realm of excessive or ridiculous gore. Roughly 70 minutes of the film’s 95 minute runtime are spent on bloody cat-­and-­mouse games as the heroes and heroines attempt to escape from the Oregon venue’s murky interior.

This murky venue interior is perhaps the best element of “Green Room.” The low budget of the film is never seen evidenced in the mise­-en-­scene of “Green Room.” Saulnier and art director Benjamin Hayden managed to create one of the most expansive and enveloping sets in recent horror-­thriller works. The audience is almost physically present with the characters due to the realism of the location. An unsettling greenish light pervades every scene as the characters remain trapped in the excellently designed and frighteningly life-like venue.

Unfortunately, the script and score of the film are not quite on par with the set design and lighting, and they leave some to be desired. The score lacks imagination and relies on basic sentimentality and foreboding sounds in turn, and the script features cliche jokes and an overkill of angsty, hardcore one-­liners. However, in a genre that is seldom critiqued based on the music or dialogue, “Green Room” is decent enough in these respects and picks up the slack in other areas.

At the end of “Green Room,” when the turmoil and violence ends, the film closes with a sarcastic remark made by one of the remaining characters. To an audience exhausted by watching this intense “battle of the punks,” a finish that is joking and lighthearted might seem to be a cop-out on the part of the film’s creators.

However, when looking at the film and its subject matter as a whole, this humorous ending serves to complete the feel and the purpose of “Green Room.” The joke brings the film full circle, connecting the ending to the punk rock beginning, and linking the closing of the film to the irreverent and youthful nature of the film’s chosen subculture, genre and characters.

In a world that often places the punk subculture and the horror genre in a position of low quality, humorous or ridiculous representation, “Green Room” manages to lend an interesting seriousness to both. The film not only is a gem of an addition to the horror-­thriller genre with many quality filmic elements, but it also manages to create a film of this type with a unique take on a subculture and genre that often are overlooked by artists today.