Samuel Kaufman ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Green Room is the third film by writer/director Jeremy Saulnier, the second being the 2013, crowd-funded slow revenge thriller, Blue Ruin. A friend of mine said of Blue Ruin that it felt like a movie where, instead of cutting corners, they just opted to make the square smaller. Well, Saulnier is now working with a considerably larger square, and he wastes none of it.
The film centers on a punk band who, after performing at a slightly-more-than-sketchy bar, witness a murder and have to fight for their lives while trying to escape. For a comparison, imagine combining the slow tension and realism of Room with the production design and violence of Mad Max: Fury Road. The film is obviously heavily inspired by the cinema of the 1980s, riffing on the slasher, action, and exploitation films of the day. Much like those movies, Green Room is wildly fun. However, unlike many of those films, it is also a very good film.
Everything from the acting to the cinematography to the set design to the writing to the makeup effects — good GOD, those makeup effects… — are top notch, without ever stepping beyond its own limits. As a mix between action and horror, Green Room was faced with the oft-bungled task of juggling the tropes of the two genres. The film accomplishes this perfectly, successfully avoiding any and all eye-roll-inducing cliches. There are no jump scares or monsters. No unrealistic stunts or million-shot-revolvers. In fact, people reload in this movie like you wouldn’t believe. The characters are neither omniscient secret agents or vapid sorority girls. Rather, they all make decisions that are honest and realistic, while being keenly aware of their own inexperience. The writer blissfully ignores any unwanted romantic subplots or even much of any character development, resisting the urge for rousing monologues and phony exposition. Without knowing virtually anything about the majority of the characters, you understand exactly who they are, and sympathize with them. It’s hard to remember a film that’s done this as successfully since Reservoir Dogs. While some of this praise is definitely deserved by Saulnier, hats must also be tipped to the cast, who all do a great job. I mean, any film that tries to convince us that Maeby is in a punk rock band and Captain Picard is a neo-Nazi has its work cut out for it, but this film pulls it off beautifully.
In the world of Green Room, who lives and who dies is never predictable or based on billing; it is just as seemingly random as death really is. And speaking of death, Green Room shows it in graphic, bloody detail. Unflinchingly. Kind of a lot. It is an R rated movie, and it definitely earns that rating. On numerous occasions, the body-horror prosthetics had me audibly gasping. The violence is swift and brutally realistic, without ever delving into Hostel torture-porn territory. Saulnier has definitely found his niche, and has mastered the art of creating a film that is gritty, violent, pulse pounding, and above all, very well made.
Overall Grade: A
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