Green Room

Green Room. 2016 Film.
Directed by Jeremy Saulnier.
I was once adrift in a sea of superhero films. Costumed products of personal trainers, aestheticians and dieticians pummelled each other relentlessly to little result.

One night I found myself cast upon an island where superheros were unknown. I met four desperate punks. The end of tour gig that was supposed to net them their gas money home had been a disaster that left them with empty pockets and a consolation slot performing at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar in the back woods. “In and out, play a few songs, and you’ll have your $300.”
Green Room reminds us what it is to be frail and imperfect, how our best laid plans go sideways, how our best intentions buckle and bow to expedience, how small, selfish inclinations sow consequences that can come back to haunt us.

After a rocky performance the band is ready to collect their money and go but one has forgot their phone charging in the Green Room. Rushing back to grab it, he discovers a girl has been murdered during their set. He calls 911 but before the call can be completed, his phone is taken and the band is locked in the Green Room with a massive bouncer and the assurance that they’ll be let out to “talk to the police” when they arrive.

On both sides of the locked door the question is: What should we do? Both sides hope there’s a way to let the band go free…but too many mistakes have been made and when the guards discover the band has been siphoning gas they know they can move the bodies, and make it look like they were savaged by dogs while trespassing—but only if there’s no guns involved, and if they first get rid of the police. They get rid of the police.

A savage back and forth of cat and mouse follows as the band members try to escape and defend themselves with cleverness, desperation and whatever weapons they can recover against waves of dogs, and knife and machete wielding neo-nazis. Suspense is huge, devastating clashes are over in heartbeats, and the surreal horror is pervaded by a persistent self-reflection–We can’t do this. Are we really doing this? We’re doing this.–that allows no heroes, but might create survivors.

Nuanced characters, great performances, strong direction, and a haunting location make this a reminder of the horror of real violence and conflict and the value of the peace we take for granted, but that takes real co-operation to sustain.