Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier, 2015)

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Green Room, directed by Jeremy Saulnier (2015).

Score: terrifying with extra nazis!

The Ain’t Rights are a dirt-poor, highly authentic hardcore punk band touring the Pacific Northwest, barely making ends meet. After a particularly deserted gig, they are promised a much better one at a neo-nazi skinhead bar. They plan to just go in, play and get out, but end up being inconvenient witnesses of a crime, and the bar management cannot allow any loose ends to leave the venue.

The movie spends just a few scenes presenting the characters and situation and then dives right into the action. There is a short period of the movie where they’re trying to figure out where they are and try to trick or negotiate their way out (which I thought would be longer and more prominent) and then it goes into full slasher, “oh god, these nazis want to kill us all” mode. I also really appreciated all the subplots that hinted at the neo-nazis having a life of their own, with their own skeletons in their respective closets. It made all the killing and running more lively.

The movie has been criticized for the dumb decisions made by the protagonists, namely opening the gig with a cover of Dead Kennedys’Nazi punks fuck off. Some people in the scene, including hardcore left-wing punks, really like conflict and provocation. They probably thought they could get away with it. We don’t even know if they’re left wing at all. Saulnier has said this movie could be part of an “inept protagonist” or “idiots in extraordinary situations” trilogy along with Blue Ruin, so at least it’s partly intentional. Though I have to admit that playing Nazi punks fuck off is probably pushing it, not because that’s too dumb a thing to do but because the audience would have none of it.

The clothes, music, dialogue and environment are quite well achieved, so immersion is guaranteed (barring you think it’s a bad writing decision to make the characters idiots). And for most common people violent gangs are quite scary, whether they are on the same side as you in the political spectrum or not. The feeling of claustrophobia earns a thumbs up.

Not an extraordinary movie but fine when you want to enjoy a nicely done horror film.

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