As part of a Double Feature, Lee reviews Jeremy Saulnier’s latest two films. This time, it’s 2016 “Green Room”.
A punk band vs. Neo-Nazis: that’s a great premise.
A premise that probably should have been played with a little more humour; I mean, that’s much too fun to throw away, right? Sure, Neo-Nazi’s aren’t fun in general, but we know that, right? Did we really need an escape horror for that sentiment to ring home?
Green Room’s a little dour and sentimental for its own good. Clichéd even, at times, for such a great outlandish premise. A typical hack-n-slash survival movie with some corny call-back lines that the audience should be able to see a mile coming, a very slow start that doesn’t feel warranted at all since we don’t use it either to get to know our protagonists or delve into why the Neo-Nazis are such dicks, and an ending that feels somewhat undeserved even if it does give the requisite amount of catharsis.
Saving graces? The action is tremendous, and when it moves, it moves well. No shaking, super clear movements; teeth-clenchingly visceral. The violence does feels somewhat justified, the claustrophobia definitely sets in at a few points, the tension for the band’s predicament is entirely understandable and their decision making doesn’t feel forced even if it does take too long for them to come up with anything interesting to watch.
There’s a style too, though it’s shaky at times. Couldn’t we have watched the band get drunk instead of this boring road trip? Wouldn’t the slow-mo mosh pit have meant more if we had more like stuff like it? Little things make it feel a little indecisive, visually. Luckily there’s little-to-no subtext to get in the way; just how a fast and simple film should be.
Contextually, it’s a step in the right direction after “Blue Ruin” for director Jeremy Saulnier. I haven’t seen “Assault of Predict 13” since I was 12-or-so, but I’m almost certain this is roughly the same film. I can safely say if you like your tense, not-too-scary horrors, much of this won’t matter to you.
Final gripe: the mumblecore. Is this an indie director rite of passage or something? One or two mumbling characters, fine. Patrick Stewart mumbling? Unreasonable. The man has gravitas, let him use it.
[This review was written as part of a Double Feature with director Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin. To read that review, click this link.]