A new year and a new series of posts. If you’ve been keeping an eye on our site since the new year you will have noticed an increase in articles and a variation in our content. From the usual Superhero and movie news, we have had movie reviews, gaming discussions and the welcome return of the Harry potter re-reads. Now get ready for the latest series; Retrospective Reviews!
Every so often we will be throwing up a review of a film that may not be a big blockbuster or one that has been out for years, it will just be one that we have finally seen. Our first such review is that of Green Room. The 2015 Jeremy Saulnier film which has gained more of an audience since the sad passing of its main star Anton Yelchin (Star Trek).
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“A punk rock band is forced to fight for survival after witnessing a murder at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar” – IMDB
Sounds like a jolly film doesn’t it? I’ll confess now that I had no idea what this film was going in. I became aware of this film shortly after Anton Yelchin’s death, various news articles and discussion on Social Media mentioned Green Room as one of Yelchin’s best performances so I was intrigued to learn more. As luck would have it, the film has recently appeared on Netflix (other streaming services are available) so I sat down to watch. And boy I was not ready for this!
The film starts out fairly slowly, with a struggling punk rock band, The Ain’t Rights, on a dwindling tour trying to ‘make it’. Pat (Yelchin), Sam, (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Joe Cole) and Tiger (Callum Turner) have genuine passion and a dash of talent. Clearly it’s not going very well as they have to steal gasoline from nearby cars just to keep moving. After the promise of a radio interview and gig prove to be less than disappointing, the band get another gig at an extreme right-wing club nearby. I don’t even need to describe it for you, just think of a bar run and frequented by stereo-typical neo-Nazis and you will hit the nail right on the head.
Most of the band are shot in close up during these early club scenes as they go through sound-check and start performing so you feel the uncertainty and fear that they are undoubtedly feeling. The Crowd is not friendly, the band practically run off stage after their set is finished. This is where the film takes a turn which I genuinely did not expect.
Long story short, Pat ends up witnessing the aftermath of a murder by another band in the Green Room (roll credits) of the club. Immediately trying to ring the Police, Pat and his bandmates are forced into the room and held captive until the owner of the club arrives. Your heart will start pounding immediately and will not slow down until the final credits roll.
For the remaining hour of the film the band is just trying to get out alive. One of the club’s bouncers is in the room with them holding them at gunpoint as well as a very disturbed friend of the murdered girl, Amber (Imogen Poots). Eventually the band jump Justin, the bouncer and take his gun with Reece using his school wrestling skills to put him in a hold. Thinking they have the upper hand, Pat and the band discuss terms of release with the now arrived club owner, Darcy played by the completely unexpected Patrick Stewart. This is such a different role than anything else I’ve ever seen in him and it was almost chilling. The only thing which breaks the immersion at this point is Stewart’s poor American accent.
Things go from bad to worse. Darcy convinces the band that he will let them go but this only results in Pat’s arm getting horribly cut as they try to break into the room to finish the band off. In the back ground Darcy is mocking up a crime scene further up the road for the Police to find so they need to dispose of the witnesses quickly. In the struggle, Reece breaks Justin’s arm and chokes him out before Amber slices him open! That was horrific and at first I didn’t actually believe what I was seeing!
As soon as it becomes obvious to the band that they won’t all get out alive they decide to make a run for it. This is where the film changes into a traditional survival horror and loses some of its appeal. It now becomes more about the violence than the characters which really disappointed me. The rest of the film might as well have been taken from any teen horror flick.
Tiger soon has an unhealthy encounter with a pitbull and Reece meets the sharp end of a skinhead blade ending their escape attempt very quickly. There is a slight upturn in the story when we find out one of the skinheads sent into to finish the band off was the murdered girls’ boyfriend who was planning to run away with her (which is the entire motivation for her killing). He offers to help the band escape but this is quickly cut short by a shotgun blast to the face!
In what appeared to be a last ditch escape attempt, the remaining members, Pat, Sam and Amber head outside only to be confronted by a whole mess of skinheads who start firing at them. Sam get’s taken out by another dog as the other two retreat back to the room.
Now it’s time for the usual stupid bad guys to come in. A couple more skinheads are sent in and are lured into an underground heroin bunker by Pat and Amber. They successfully taken them both out and even kidnap Gabe, a reluctant skinhead who at the beginning of the film seemed to be the one running things. An unexpected character change and one that didn’t really make sense. His justification for defecting is simply that he doesn’t want to go to prison.
The trio escape into the woods and instead of going to find help and more importantly, medical attention as both Pat and Amber are severely injured, they go hunting for Darcy. Finding him trying to set up the fake crime scene, they kill the bad guys and wait for the authorities to arrive. The film ends with a jokey reference to Pat’s desert island band, referencing an earlier point in the film. At this point the film had lost all semblance of humour so it was jarring for a joke to be the last words of the main characters.
Anton Yelchin was incredible. I can’t express that enough. He was by far the best thing about this film and in a completely different role than anything I’ve ever seen before. A grimy, depressed, aspiring musician who just wants to be a success, he was the one making the decisions and you absolutely believed the sheer panic and helplessness he felt. It is so sad that there are so few things to see Yelchin in as this film made me want to see more of him. He was such a bright spark in what was otherwise a dull film.
Honorable mention goes to Sam played by Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development). She was the pretty face of the band and the positivity as well. Until things started going bad she was pretty happy and the chemistry with Yelchin was clear. I would have preferred if she had survived instead of the insanely creepy Amber. Imogen Poots plays crazy very well but I don’t feel like the character fit well with the rest of the group. She was just a plot device, forcing the rest of the group into decisions they didn’t want to make.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this film to anyone but it wasn’t actually that bad. A few genuine surprise moments held the attention until then end but not much substance overall. And seriously who thought that Patrick Stewart as the leader of a bunch of neo-Nazi skinheads would be believable?! Poor casting choice and not a great execution by Stewart himself. Part of me thinks he wasn’t giving it his all because he knew the quality of the film was below him.
This film gets 3 beans out of 5 on the Geekstalk.
Seen the film? Let us know what you though in the comments or on Twitter @JackGeekstalk.