Green Room finds director Jeremy Saulnier in a supremely confident mood. And so he should be, because back in 2013, the stripped-down, taut, yet beguiling Blue Ruin established him as one of the most promising new American directors.
With Green Room, Jeremy Saulnier sticks to his strengths. It’s sparse, no thrills and straight to the point -- like a B-movie, unfolding in a gritty and concise manner with sudden gory but painfully realistic bursts of violence to jolt audiences into a frenzy. But even when it dovetails away from these fights, it’s just as compelling in how it moves the plot along and builds its tension and suspense. Despite the similar style to his previous work, Green Room never feels tired. Instead it’s further, rousing proof of just how compelling and revelatory a filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier. Simply put, Green Room is terrific, potent storytelling.
In fact, you’re probably better off knowing as little as possible about Green Room before you see it. The only prior knowledge you need is that you’re about to be taken on a striking, whirlwind cinematic jaunt by a director who knows the best ways to keep you on the precipice of your seat. If you’re still inclined to learn about its plot though, then take a gander below.
Green Room starts off with punk rock band on tour, struggling for cash and gigs. They’re provided with both in the shape of a performance at a remote venue in the deep, dark wilderness for a group of white supremacists. But after their show, they stumble upon a murder, which the supremacists are intent on covering up.
Jeremy Saulnier has been vocal about how Green Room reflects his own past in the DC punk scene. And the story builds in an organic fashion that suggests it has come from a mind that knows this world well. Almost as if it festered, entertained, and then grew in Jeremy Saulnier’s mind as he tediously waited in countless green rooms before he performed over the years.
Jeremy Saulnier is subversive in how he allows Green Room’s plot to develop. He keeps you on your toes, and makes you laugh, wince, and shocked when you least expect it, while repeatedly raising the stakes to underline just how drastic the situation has become for the hapless band.
Green Room works because of just how out of their depth and timid the band are against the disturbingly professional and seasoned white supremacists. You watch and try to imagine how they’re going to get out of this increasingly bleak and deadly scenario without being able to form an answer at the same time as the plot tightens in around them. Plus, you’re repeatedly reminded that you’re in the custody of a director willing to twist and turn down surprising avenues, while at the same genuflecting to genre convention so that viewers remain entranced.
Unfortunately Green Room’s conclusion belies the preceding constraints and claustrophobia that had kept the band pegged back and overwhelmed for so long. But, despite this disappointment, it doesn’t stop Green Room from being a smartly orchestrated, suspenseful, bare bones thriller that it’s awfully enjoyable to just sit back and watch unfold.