Friday, June 10, 2016

Green Room

***1/2 out of ****

I'm originally from Oregon and I have a tendency to idealize its often overcast weather with dark valleys shaded by evergreen trees as a place of peaceful beauty. I couldn't have expected that writer/director Jeremy Saulnier would set his latest dark rural thriller in such a place after the material worked so well in his Virginia-set revenge movie, Blue Ruin, which was closer to my current whereabouts.

There are scary people everywhere and Green Room stages a terrifying face-off between a traveling punk band and Neo-Nazi skinheads at a secluded venue deep in the woods. The all-in-one-night war/western structure is easily reminiscent of John Carpenter films, but with more of a hard-boiled edge and much more gruesome violence.

Along with the relatively unexplored cinematic territory of this film is a villain at the center played with subtle menace by the brilliantly cast Patrick Stewart who plays against type so well, he disappears into his quiet yet ruthless white supremacist leader.

Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, and Saulnier regular, Macon Blair, all enhance their resumes with roles that are unique in their respective bodies of work. The rest of the cast is also amazingly convincing in their roles as the people of this dark underworld.

Like Blue Ruin, the movie is about people unfit in their challenge of going up against people who deal in violence and murder. The movie does a great job at subverting the viewers expectations for who lives and dies. Some characters survive their circumstances unbelievably, considering the film's realism, but believability and predictability are always at odds when you're storytelling. 

Green Room is a thankful detour from the standard action movie and rightfully challenges the comfort of an audience seeking savage violence for escapism. This is one of those movies that is so beautiful at being ugly. 

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