In his follow-up to Blue Ruin, which had the actress who played Jan Brady shooting an Uzi, director Jeremy Saulnier has another blook-soaked film, this time called Green Room. It is a fairly novel idea for a crime film–a punk band, at a gig in a skinhead bar in deep in the woods of Oregon, witnesses a murder, and then attempt to escape the clutches of a white supremacist organization.
I do have to say this before I go any farther–this film is violent, very violent. The body count is extremely high, higher than I can remember to count, and people are done away with by being disemboweled, having their throats ripped out by dogs, and old-fashioned shootings. From about halfway on it is an orgy of blood, and I was surprised that a little old lady with a walker that came in after I did actually stayed through the whole thing.
The first part of the film is a nice look at how hard it is to be a band. The Ain’t Rights, a foursome, have just had a gig that got them $6.87 each, and they are experts at siphoning gas. The apologetic promoter sends them to their next gig, telling them not to talk politics. They arrive to find their name misspelled on the marquee and a lot of burly men with neck tattoos. Mischievously they open with The Dead Kennedy’s “Nazi Punks Fuck Off,” but all seems to be well as they leave with $350. Except one of the members left her phone in the green room. When another one goes back to get it, he finds a woman with a knife in her head.
All is cool for a while. There is a lot of negotiation, and the owner of the place and the leader of the “movement” (Patrick Stewart, totally playing against type) reasons with the band. They are led to believe they will be allowed to leave, but you can’t trust neo-Nazis, and the battle is on. Just about everybody dies, except for three people, I think.
Saulnier clearly loves a nice film full of mayhem and backwoods ignoramuses, as judging by these two films. Green Room is a little sloppy in places, and there was a subplot involving one of the skinheads planning to leave with evidence that I didn’t quite follow–maybe its because there’s some mumbling going on, and I can’t hear that well. The ending also drags out a little long. But there’s also some dry wit going on, such as a shot of a man with a mohawk vacuuming his carpet.
If carnage and loud punk rock don’t bother you, this is a fine film. I wonder how that little old lady liked it.