After witnessing a murder, a punk rock band is forced into a vicious fight for survival against a group of maniacal skinheads.
The green room is a room in a theater or studio in which performers can relax when they are not performing. If big-name celebrities are waiting to appear on Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien or any late night show, they typically hang out in the green room before going on stage, where they can talk with other celebrities, have drinks and generally, just relax. The same for musicians who are playing at specific venues, before they go on stage, the green room is a place of sanctuary, a private area away from the madding crowds. However, in the movie “Green Room,” that place is anything but.
The story begins with Pat (Anton Yelchin) and his punk rock band, “The Ain’t Rights,” traveling on the open road throughout the Pacific Northwest. Having to siphon gas from other vehicles just to keep going, they try to make a living, playing anywhere people will listen to them. When a friend manages to get them a gig at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar just outside of Portland, Oregon, a location off the beaten path, they are more than happy to have a destination but for most of them, it will be their final one. After finishing a set of songs, their equipment has already been moved out of the green room and into the hallway, making room for the next band but when Pat realizes he left his cell phone in the room, he rushes back to retrieve it, much to the chagrin of the bar’s manager Gabe (Macon Blair). When he enters the room, he sees a small group of people standing around and a woman lying on the floor with a knife in her skull. Pat freaks out and tries to run away but Gabe and his co-workers stop him and his friends from leaving.
They are kept inside the room at gunpoint while they contact the bar’s owner, Darcy (Patrick Stewart), to try and figure out what needs to be done. Naturally, Pat and his friends swear that they won’t tell anybody but Darcy, wanting to tie up any and all loose ends, states that he wants no witnesses and informs his henchmen to take care of the situation. It’s at this point that the tension revs up and Pat and his friends, realizing that they are going to die, decide to take a stand and fight back, no matter what the outcome.
The movie is a bigger and much better version of Davind Fincher’s “Panic Room,” with Pat and his friends stuck inside while the skinheads outside, devise a way to get in and kill them. The most obvious choice would be to burn the building to the ground with them inside but because it is Darcy’s main source of income, not to mention the hidden bunker buried underneath it which houses a heroin operation, that option is a big no-no. At one point, out of sheer desperation, the group makes a run for the back door but the skinheads bring in pit bulls and one of them is attacked and killed, forcing the rest to make their way back to the green room. As the group is gradually killed off one by one, succumbing to gunshots, pit bull attacks, and stabbings, the remaining survivors formulate an escape plan to counterbalance the skinheads, trying unsuccessfully, to escape through air ducts and ventilation shafts. As the last two left standing, injured, bloodied, and very tired, with nothing left to lose, Pat and Amber (Imogen Poots) manufacture one last course of action that even the skinheads aren’t anticipating.
“Green Room” is relentlessly nail-biting and fraught with unbelievable tension while the performances from all onscreen, are outstanding. While Patrick Stewart is known primarily as a good guy, like Captain Jean-Luc Picard in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and Professor Xavier in the “X-Men” movies, here, we see a side of him that is pure evil. On the one hand, he can be affable and very charming when need be but make no mistake, his true intentions are frightening and disturbing. Anton Yelchin starts out as a whiner but over the course of the film, he transforms not into an unstoppable, buffed-up Terminator, but a man who has had enough of being bullied and pushed around and is ready to fight back. His metamorphosis is authentic and as his conversion progresses, you root for him the whole way.
Director Jeremy Saulnier has constructed a good old-fashioned suspense thriller that never once gives away its intended destination. And try as you may, I guarantee you’ll have more fun getting there, than trying to figure out how.
In theaters April 29th
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