Review : Green Room (2016)

Green Room, directed by Jeremy Saulnier and released in 2016, is an independent horror thriller which has been hyped by a lot of genre enthusiasts. Does it live up to its reputation ? Well, it’s not that simple.

After an unsuccessful tour, a punk-rock band is booked for one last gig at an isolated neo-nazi club. After the show, they witness a murder backstage and are trapped by the group of neo-nazis who will stop at nothing to silence them. When the leader of the neo-nazis and owner of the clup shows up, the violence escalates as the band fights for their lives.

Is Green Room a good film ? Absolutely. Jeremy Saulnier brilliantly creates tension, and once it begins, it doesn’t stop until the end credits start rolling. The movie is tense, suspenseful and very brutal. Whether it is psychological terror or gory violence, you will constantly be on the edge of your seat, biting your nails.

Green Room is extremely nerve wracking. Some scenes are unpleasant to watch and quite disturbing, and it’s all due to the great unnerving atmosphere of the film. The director did an exellent job and both Patrick Stewart and Anton Yelchin give excellent performances.

However, Green Room has weaknesses which cannot be overlooked. Though the level of tension never decreases once it is established, the first act of the film tends to drag a lot. The first half hour is slow-paced and some scenes feel unnecessarily long.

One of the the film’s biggest flaws is that there is no real emotional investment in the characters. There isn’t much character development and all we know for sure about the band is that they make a lot of dumb decisions. I wasn’t rooting for any of the protagonists so their fate had litlle impact. It doesn’t really matter who survives and who dies since we don’t know anything about these characters. What impacts the viewer is the gruesome violence they have to face, not who’s facing it.

The level of violence also feels quite exagerated in regards to the event that sets the movie in motion. It is not surprising to watch this group of neo-nazis be violent towards the band but it all feels a bit extreme in this scenario. It’s not the violence itself that bothers me (this girl loves her slashers so I’m quite used to this), but it simply doesn’t seem to fit in this particular storyline.

Once you remove the good visuals and the excellent atmosphere, the plot is rather basic : the bad guys try to kill the good guys because they saw something they shouldn’t have. Add to that the poor character development and you end up with an average storyline.

Green Room is a suspensful thriller that expertly balances psychological terror and gory violence. Though the story is rather thin, I highly recommend it for the atmosphere and tension alone.


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