Punk-rock band The Ain't Rights are trying to figure out how to get home on one tank of gas when their last show falls through, but their host has a solution for them: they can play at this club his cousin goes to. Just don't mention politics. The band is pretty nonplussed by the crowd, but not enough that they don't play a prank on the Neo Nazis. Still, things don't start to go wrong until after the show. There's a dead girl backstage, and the band has seen it. Soon enough they're holed up in the green room, waiting for help to come.
GREEN ROOM is a tense thriller that builds the tension naturally. At the beginning, it's clear that both sides think the standoff will be over quickly. Amber (Imogen Poots), the friend of the dead girl, and the band are all pretty resourceful. I really enjoyed that they were scared, in over their heads, outnumbered and outgunned, but still able to come up with some pretty smart moves. They aren't just a bunch of fodder for gory ends. (Not that none of them meet gory ends.)
The gore in GREEN ROOM is intense, but used sparingly. From the first shocking injury to the last, I still jumped. The movie didn't stop surprising me as it went on. I was not surprised, however, by Amber. I do enjoy a character determined to survive a horror movie however they have to. Honestly, I liked all the protagonists pretty well.
The antagonists are well acted too. Patrick Stewart lends his considerable gravitas to the role of their leader, Darcy. His quiet, calm manner no matter how awry things go did convince me that he was a man people would follow despite the heinousness of his orders. Macon Blair brings a surprising amount of humanity to henchman Gabe, who gets the best line of the movie. (I won't give it away.)
Director Jeremy Saulnier has truly made a horror film with a punk-rock sensibility. It's visceral, but what makes it most terrifying is how stripped down it is. There are no monsters. There are barely even guns. One of the worst injuries in the film is caused by a door. And, well, there are Neo Nazis in Oregon, and that is scary. GREEN ROOM got under my skin in the best way. This is a horror movie with a brain.