This was probably the most intense theater experience I have ever had. Green Room is bloody, gruesome, and legitimately shocking, and I do not use those words merely as casual adjectives that help move my review along. They fit 100% and then some, inspiring visceral reactions in the audience that very few films do. When characters walk into the frame with blood-stained machetes or other sharp objects of various length, there’s a thrill that arises that’s anything but empty. Saulnier understands the power of violence and the impact that it can have, and you get the sense that he respects it and the people who are subject to it. Even though the characters aren’t the most fully formed characters in the world, they are most certainly not one note. Everyone, whether canine or human, operates with some notion of flexibility, their reactions to certain situations varying in ways that feel natural. Every act of violence in front of you feels very, very real.
What’s also refreshing is that none of these characters are perpetual dumbasses just for the sake of it. Even better than that is the fact that the right decision can still lead to an awful consequence. This movie is a big middle finger to the deus ex machina plot device, its setup fraught with a current of desperation and uncertainty, its escalating tension making it questionable just how many people will get out of this alive. At the same time, there’s also a sense of humor that snakes its way throughout the film, brief moments of levity both giving you some breathing time and reinforcing the impact of the violence around it. And so, in the end, this high-octane thriller about punks versus skinheads somehow ends up being one of the most human films of the year.
-Fantastic performances from the cast. Stewart is scary-fun, and Poots and Yelchin deliver layered performances even though they don’t have too much character material to work with. Macon Blair is also wonderful as Gabe, whose arc is interesting to look at in relation to the other Nazis.
-DP Sean Porter makes good use of the complementary red-green color pairing throughout, and it’s a nice visual representation of the conflict playing out in the film.
Photo credit: A24, Green Room