31 Days of Hell: A Gorgeous and Bloody Roller Coaster: Green Room (2015)


Image Courtesy of The New York Times

Written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, Green Room follows the Ain’t Rights, a punk band on the last leg of a long and unsuccessful tour. They are about to pack it in when they are offered one last gig at a club in backwoods Oregon. The club, which is patroned entirely by Neo-Nazis and decorated with swastikas and confederate flags, isn’t a place anyone wants to find themselves, but after the band witnesses something they should not it becomes a deathtrap. The Ain’t Rights barricade themselves into the green room as the white supremacists plot their deaths outside to cover up their crime, led by the terrifyingly meticulous Darcy in one of Patrick Stewarts most menacing performances.

Although very jarring to see Patrick Stewart play the leader of a gang of Nazis, he brings the role to life like nobody else could. Darcy spends much of the film planning the band’s demise, controlling every aspect to try and deflect suspicion from himself or any of the leadership in his organization. His attention to every detail of the crime makes him a terrifying villain.

The band’s precarious situation begins before they lock themselves in, and paints them as very serious group. From the beginning of the film they are broke, syphoning gas from a parking lots to make their gigs, and eating whatever leftovers they can find wherever they crash. When they sit down for a college radio interview, they answer every question as a stereotypical hard punk band should, but stumble when they are asked to name their desert island band. The fun whimsical questions meant to get the conversation going end up being the hardest ones for them to answer. This sets the stage for a tense, well calculated face off between the very serious Neo-Nazis and the also serious punk rockers.  

This movie impressed me with its internal cohesion, and density. This is a movie where so much happens in the 95-minute run time that you have to pay attention to the details, or risk missing something. The quieter moments of dialogue in the movie are full of foreshadowing and setting up devices that pay off later. So many things reappear that after my second and third watch I was still noticing new connections that eluded me when I was too rapt in the gruesome violence to notice much else.

And gruesome it was. As a horror movie junkie, there is little that causes me turn my head from the screen, but there were scenes in this film that had me watching between my fingers and crawling in my skin. Saulnier does not shy away from using extremely well devised shots to show the intense violence that becomes one of the hallmarks of the film. All things considered, this is a gorgeously shot film with a well-mixed soundtrack that adds to the feeling of intensity. The music, specifically when ambient music overtakes the scene sounds signals a moment of rest between the intense conflict.

This is also a film that takes its subject seriously. White supremacist organizations are and always have been extremely violent groups that use terror to control and harm people of color. The film’s treatment of these groups as nothing other than hateful helps to create strong villains, while not serving to normalize the presence of hate groups as other films featuring neo-Nazis tend to do (think American History X).

This film is a ride from start to finish, and would highly recommend a watch for this 31 Days of Hell. 

-Patrick Bernas