Reviewed by: Harvey Karten, Shockya
Grade: C-
Director:  Jeremy Saulnier
Written by: Jeremy Saulnier
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat
Screened at: Park Ave., NYC, 4/11/16
Opens: April 15, 2016

“Green Room” has a couple of things going for it, while working to attract a solid audience.  For one, as of this date, it has an 89% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on a substantial number of reviews.  For another, writer-director Jeremy Saulnier’s previous offering, “Blue Ruin,” has a whopping 96% “fresh” rating.  Who are the 4% killjoys on the latter movie?  I am, for one. In my review posted April 25, 2014, there was this conclusion:

“As Will Cleland’s redneck family goes after Dwight, the latter virtually guarantees their success by amateurish moves, among which is his refusal simply to shoot first and ask questions later.  As they say, you’ve got to watch out for the quiet ones, yet Dwight is so inept, his conversations so flabby, that an audience cannot be blamed for wanting him out of the way.”

For “Green Room,” the news is worse. For the most part, this is a claustrophobic slasher movie with much of the non-ironic drama taking place in the titled green room.  The punk rock band, who include Pat (Anton Yelchin) on bass, Sam (Alia Shawkat) on guitar, Reece (Joe Cole) on the drums, Emily (Taylor Tunes) on something-or-other,  and Tiger (Callum Turner) on vocals, project an assortment of personalities, none of whom would a civilized person care to have a beer with.  It’s not just that they “sing” punk rock, a loud, vile, thankfully passé set of anthems for youthful rebels without a cause, except to make a few bucks playing for people as idiotic as they.  It’s also that they show no particular character.  There’s nobody there to single out and say, “That’s the guy, or girl, that I can relate to, a person who is just my type”.  Pat, the would-be leader of the group, comes across as a nebbish.  It’s odd that he has a following.

These punk-rockers are so down on their luck, so bereft of income (gee, I wonder why), that they accept a job in the wilds of Oregon, a beautiful state known as well to serve as the digs of neo-nazis and other white supremacists.  The leader of that group is pure evil, but at least he has character, in the form of Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart) who  is accepted by the freaks who decorate their “concert hall” with a huge Confederate flag.  Perhaps he got his position of leadership because nobody can quite make out what he’s saying, so the assumption is, given the idiocy of the fascists who hired the punks, that he must be saying something important.

The most intelligent thing that Daniel (Mark Webber) has to say occurs near the beginning, when the rockers first meet their employers and call him “Dan,” getting the rebuttal “Daniel.”

Filmed in Portland, Oregon, “Green Room” gets momentum when a woman is found dead, stabbed in the head, at which point the victim’s friend, Amber (Imogen Potts), opts to leave.  She is enjoined from departing and so are the musical members because Darcy and his merry band will eventually decide to kill all potential witnesses.  But first they must be imprisoned in the green room under the attention of one of the bad guys, who loses his gun and is wrestled to the ground by the punks.  When one of the punks asks about the bullets in the gun, the skinhead’s answer is “They’re not bullets; they’re cartridges.”  That’s it for clever dialogue.

The real principal character of this movie might be Imogen Poots, the friend of the murdered woman, but she could have used a sample of the meth or other speed that her nazi pals may have been cooking up, because she went through the motions as though on Ambien.  Come to think of it, just what is it that the skins were doing?  Did they plan to take out Reed College?  The Oregon state house?  To provide an alternative to the doctors serving those who wish to end their lives?

The film, which has been praised by other journalists for “craft,” scores negatively in my view on clarity of purpose, cleverness of dialogue, authenticity of production values, and charisma of the performers.

Rated R.  94 minutes.  © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – C-
Acting – D
Technical – C
Overall – C-

By Harvey Karten

Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.

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