Combustible Celluloid
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With: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Patrick Stewart, Macon Blair, Mark Webber, Taylor Tunes, Brent Werzner, Kai Lennox, Eric Edelstein, Samuel Summer, David W. Thompson
Written by: Jeremy Saulnier
Directed by: Jeremy Saulnier
MPAA Rating: R for strong brutal graphic violence, gory images, language and some drug content
Running Time: 94
Date: 04/15/2016

Green Room (2016)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Major Threat

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Influenced by exploitation movies of the 1970s (and punk music of the 1980s), this horror-thriller is rooted in a gripping, grisly kind of realism without resorting to lazy coincidence or stupidity. Director Jeremy Saulnier previously made the similarly excellent Blue Ruin, and continues honing his skills as a maker of exceptional genre movies, both entertaining and involving. Green Room conjures up a vivid atmosphere, introducing characters that feel like they're living in it, rather than just performing in it.

Punk rock band The Ain't Rights — Bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin), guitarist Sam (Alia Shawkat), drummer Reece (Joe Cole), and singer Tiger (Callum Turner) — are on tour, not even scraping enough money together for gas. When a key gig falls through, a journalist gets them a replacement gig in a backwoods Portland club for white supremacists. After unwisely playing a Dead Kennedys cover song ("Nazi Punks F--- Off"), the band prepares to make a hasty exit when they become witnesses to a brutal murder in the green room. Trapped inside with a stranger (Imogen Poots) while the sinister, calculating leader (Patrick Stewart) schemes, the band mates must think on their feet in order to survive.

These characters have history, such as when one bandie's wrestling skills come in handy, and their decisions carry real weight. Saulnier use of compressed time and space (set over one long day and mainly in one room) lend an air of urgency to the story, while darkness and sounds (barking dogs) add to the unsettling soundtrack. The cast is outstanding, but it's Stewart who becomes one of the screen's most haunting villains, spreading hatred with soft-spoken precision.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray release comes just weeks after the new of the untimely death of Mr. Yelchin, which may draw more people into seeing this movie; make no mistake, while it's an excellent movie, it's also a genre movie with graphic gore and violence. The package comes with an optional digital copy, a commentary track by director Saulnier, and a short, studio-produced featurette. I would have liked some music videos or perhaps some MP3s from the soundtrack, but I'm not complaining. Audio is excellent, and the video, while a good representation of the theatrical experience, is fairly gritty. Highly recommended.

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