Film Review: Green Room at Cinecity Film Festival, Dukes @ Komedia, 20/11/15

In this early preview as part of Brighton’s Cinecity film festival, Green Room is a film written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier who directed last year’s brilliant Blue Ruin.

Punk band The Ain’t Rights live their lives on the road going from gig to gig. After their latest unsuccessful gig gives them barely enough petrol money to get home, they take a matinee gig for skinheads. After surveying the crowd of skinheads and bikers in front of them they unwisely open with an anti Nazi song; an energetic cover of The Dead Kennedy’s Nazi Punks Fuck Off. Aside from a few drinks and spit hurled at them they finish their set intact and actually get paid a decent amount for the gig.

As they are leaving guitarist Pat (Anton Yelchin) goes back to the green room to pick up something. Upon entering he sees something he shouldn’t have and is herded back to the green room with the rest of the band, supposedly for their own safety.

Being the most timid member of the band, we the audience see events unfold through his eyes. It’s quite an understated performance by Yelchin, with a lot of other actors having more showy roles to play. It’s quite clever by him though, as in this role he is able to do a lot of non-verbal acting, particularly with his eyes.

A large portion of the film takes place in said room, which makes for fantastically claustrophobic, tense viewing. This is when the film really comes into its own and draws on classic siege films such as Dawn of the Dead and Assault on Precinct 13.

It is here that the venue owner Darcy (Patrick Stewart) arrives to take control of the situation. Unlike Professor X or Captain Pickard there is a ruthlessness and dark side to his character, who makes the scenes that he is in very un-nerving. It was quite refreshing seeing Steward portray this nastier style of character as opposed to the more noble and clean cut character that we are used to seeing from him.

The punk rock soundtrack is used to great effect as the aggregation and energy of the music matches the pace and intensity of the film perfectly. As the film is set in and around the rock club it means it is dimly lit with artificial light, which corresponds with the dark undertones surrounding the characters the band encounter.

As with Saulnier’s previous film Blue Ruin, Green Room has a real layer of darkness and menace to it. For all intents and purposes this is a pretty gory thriller, which is no bad thing; however there was some real laugh out loud moments of pitch black comedy thrown in for good measure. These elements of pitch black comedy along with the standout performances by Stewart and Yelchin do help to elevate this film into quite an original offering.

Green Room will be on general release in the UK in spring 2016.

By Simon England

The Verse Staff

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