DVD / Digital Download Review – Green Room (2016)

Plucky punk rockers the Ain’t Rights agree to a desperate gig in a neo-Nazi infected Pacific Northwestern piss-pond. Serenading the skin-headed swastika sweethearts proves the easy part. One forgotten phone later and they slip on a steaming post-trauma-turd that sets the Ain’t Rights on a deadly collision course with the far-right’s.

Machiavellian bar owner Darcy, played by Sir Patrick Stewart, has his nefarious fingers jammed knuckle deep in a plethora of dodgy pies and is determined to orchestrate a final solution that threatens to wipe out anyone who knows anything.

Outnumbered and outgunned the band must mine their inner resources and beat the conniving conehead at his own morally bankrupt game.

Jeremy Saulnier follows up the critically acclaimed Blue Ruin with a genre-welding crowd-pleaser that deserves every ribbon of critical drool slavered upon it. As grounded as it is classy, this seriously gruesome siege movie will lure you into the epicentre of an immersive life or death struggle – then abandon you to fight for survival alongside the protagonists.

Inspired by Saulnier’s punk band past this personal film is much more than just a breathy handwritten love letter to Assault on Precinct 13.

The cast convinces at all times, whether delivering the sweet empathy building sections of the searing script, or the coldly saturnalian dialogue of bombastic, scorched earth ass-covering. Crucially, the mechanics of the make-believe band never look overly concocted thanks to a combination of exhaustive research, commitment, and a spot of expert coaching from Hutch Harris of The Thermals.

Sadly Green Room carries the honour of being a paragraph in the epitaph of the effortlessly talented Anton Yelchin. He embraces his role as likeable bass player Pat with typical gusto. Despite having to endure the worst injury management since Macgyver attended a combine harvester crash, Yelchin remains the humanist heartbeat that pumps affinity through the films blood vessels.

As you would expect Patrick Stewart is mesmerisingly good at being horribly bad, and he deserves colossal credit for bringing his Shakespearean bearing to a $6m indie genre pic. It really is deliciously surreal to witness a Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire, from Yorkshire, channelling his inner neo-Nazi bottom feeder.

Saulnier has no misgivings about using cringe-inducing savagery as a narrative cattle-prod and shows even less remorse in gilding it with unflinching realism. Every practically staged flesh tear, gunshot wound and canine chomp is lovingly crafted and invokes favourable comparisons to the similarly ruthless, and claustrophobic, horror classic À l’intérieur.

The box-cutter carnage alone is pure concentrated marrowbone for gorehounds, and Green Room showcases the best bullet in the head ambush since Grete Gerwig decorated her dashboard in House of the Devil.

Structured beautifully, the film develops in a naturally laconic way that does not force feed us audacity yet calmly and callously holds the attention hostage. Simple but imaginative call backs, and a willingness to devour the tails of its own running themes keeps Green Room fresher than morning snow and equally as crisp.

Nothing embodies this more than when, early on in the proceedings, our beleaguered punks are interviewed and each asked to pick one solitary desert island band. Cue frantic rallies of kudos tennis. However, once the gloves and wheels begin to come off the prestige of peer pressure wanes and the choices become more honest and comically confessional, before fading into eventual insignificance.

The movie is as awash with this type of organic augmentation as it is with the red stuff and marks Saulnier as one of the most unpretentiously cultivated talents of his generation.

Watching Green Room is like listening to your favourite band play a raw, stripped down version of your best-loved song and realising it is the most entertainingly powerful rendition you have ever heard.

★★★★1/2| Bradley Hadcroft

Action, Horror, Siege | USA, 2016 | 95 mins | 18 | Altitude Film Entertainment| UK HD Digital/DVD OUT NOW  | Dir. Jeremy Saulnier| Cast. Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat | BUY

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