Jeremy Saulnier’s GREEN ROOM begins by introducing us to a punk rock group (featuring Anton Yelchin and Alia Shawkat) hardscrabbling their way through a tour that involves literally stealing gas to keep their van running and taking whatever gig they can just to keep eating when they aren’t playing. One of those gigs turns out to be at a club that caters to skinheads, but a gig is a gig so they take it. Unfortunately, on their way out of the club following their set, they become witness to the fact that a girl has been killed in the titular green room. After becoming holed up in that same green room, the club’s owner (played by a lethally low key Patrick Stewart) shows up and the members of the group soon realize that outnumbered and virtually weaponless, there is little chance any of them will be leaving the club alive.
For fans of Saulnier’s break through film BLUE RUIN, GREEN ROOM has been pretty eagerly anticipated since it was announced, and simply put, none of those people should be disappointed by this outing. Once again, he delivers a lean and mean thriller that keeps you guessing just enough along with characters, both heroic and villainous, that are oftentimes not exactly what you first made them out to be or have something within them that allows them to dig a little deeper for their own survival. On both sides of the equation, the audience is encouraged to keep up with the strategy being employed to either kill everyone or survive. Attention to THAT detail is somewhat novel and it fuels a film that isn’t interested in giving the audience tried and true fight climaxes or traditionally satisfactory character conclusions. Normally that could disappoint “lazy” viewers wishing to lean on the familiar signposts served up to them by studio-driven action fare, but Saulnier has a very sure and inventive hand with the action, so the uninitiated (by BLUE RUIN) should leave the theater with a smile on their faces, as well.