Saturday, April 30, 2016
One of the many inspired touches taken by Green Room (2015), written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, is how it plays off that persona audiences have come to associate with Stewart. Yes, he's playing the villain, Darcy, the leader of a backwoods group of white supremacists, and he orders them to commit several heinous acts (one young follower agrees to be stabbed and another agrees to take the blame for it, so the police will be thrown off the original crime), but this is still largely the same Patrick Stewart we know and recognize, and that's what makes his actions and decisions all the more horrific.
I'm going to do my best to avoid revealing too many plot details. Green Room works very well because so much that occurs is unpredictable, and the shocking moments are shocking not because they're loud noises that make you jump but because they are that violent, gory, unexpected, and out-of-nowhere. Like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, many developments occur without the traditional movie buildup and foreshadowing. They aren't random so much as they are the strict, logical result of the situation.
From a thematic standpoint, Green Room is not particularly deep, apart from the punk rockers discovering they're not as hardcore as they set themselves up to be; there are some really nasty, evil people separate from the musicians who siphon gas to refill their tour van and play in coffee shops. The ideology of white supremacists, what drives a person to join a hate group, is not really explored apart from one line by Amber.
The strength of the film is its tension and physicality. It goes back to the bomb under the table rule described by Hitchcock, waiting for the violence to erupt as the discomfort and tension accumulates. Much of the film is devoted to both sets of characters talking among themselves as they try to determine a strategy and figure out what they need to do to come out on top and alive.
Is this a fun movie? Not really. It's not campy or jokey, and the violence is not exciting or glamorized but desperate, bleak and painful. As an example of crafting suspense and shocks, it's a superior thriller, strongly directed and acted.