Movie Review: Green Room

In honor of the late Anton Yelchin, who tragically lost his life in a car accident last month, I finally took a look at the unhinged yet mesmerizing thriller Green Room. An indie with a lot on its mind, tossing an unusual ensemble cast of punk rockers into a deadly fight for survival, this grisly, tension-filled nail-biter managed to not only deliver an enjoyable and bone-chilling adventure, but also one of the more memorable performances from a star taken too soon from the world.

At the end of their lengthy tour across the Pacific Northwest, punk rock band, the Ain't Rights, soon find themselves in the remote Oregon woods, playing a final show at a cryptic neo-Nazi skinhead bar. As the show comes to an end, the band finds themselves suddenly drawn into a crooked murder investigation, as bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin) uncovers a dark secret in the bar's green room. Quickly entangled in a game of cat-and-mouse with a strange man named Darcy (Patrick Stewart) and his violent army of white supremacists, the band must find a way out of this deadly trap before it's too late.  

While the synopsis of this film may sound like something out of an Eli Roth picture, and the cast is nothing too spectacular to catch your attention at first glance, the unusual horror-thriller of Jeremy Saulnier's Green Room quickly popped up on my radar as the young and highly-talented Anton Yelchin lost his life only nearly a month ago. Being hailed as another one of the actor's best performances, I knew I had to check it out as soon as possible. What I go in the end, to my surprise, was less of a muddled horror gore-fest, and more of a riveting display of unique filmmaking. Cinematically beautiful and tension-filled throughout, while Green Room might be another unsettling and violent thriller we've seen before, it offers up just the right amount of tension and distinctive appeal to keep the bloody train moving.

Among its avant-garde premise, which harbors tasteful direction from director Jeremy Saulnier and a plot strung together by tense scenes of violence and feverish dialogue, one of the central aspects that keep Green Room chugging along is its cast. From its peculiar yet relatable band of misfit rockers to its unsettling array of blood-thirsty thugs, Green Room managed to successfully confuse the hell out of me when tossing in seemingly innocent characters, and quickly turning the tables on who they truly were. Leading the cast, we have our colorful band of punk rockers, played by Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner. Each with their own flair of pizzazz and colorful hair, this band of low-level metal-heads quickly becomes a band of heroes as they struggle to save themselves from the clutches of unknown evil. While no one really stands out as much as Yelchin, the remaining members do make their presence known as they struggle to escape.

Offering up a powerful performance opposite Patrick Stewart's sinister antagonist and Imogen Poots' fearless fellow survivor, the late Anton Yelchin led the show with his sincere yet frenetic role of a guy simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Quickly losing his grip on what and who to trust, Yelchin's character brought just the right amount of emotion to the fast-paced tension of the film. While his chemistry with ally Amber (played by Poots) definitely wasn't something out of any good romantic comedy, Yelchin's enjoyable sarcasm and optimistic demeanor made the film feel a lot more human among its grisly violence.

Overall, while it may be your typical violent thriller like something from the Eli Roth collection (not as civilized as something from say, Quentin Tarantino, but maybe just as inventive), Green Room not only delivered a unique indie flair among its offbeat plot, but also some great performances from two actors I've only seen a handful of times on screen. Stepping away from his wheelchair as X-Men's Professor X, and settling in for another indie adventure when he's not aboard the USS Enterprise, both Patrick Stewart and Anton Yelchin keep the boat afloat in this gritty and unorthodox thriller.

I gave this film a 6 out of 10 because while I may not be a huge fan of relentless gore or unsettling horror flicks, Green Room drew me in with its stellar cast and didn't take me from the edge of my seat until the very end. If you're looking for a reasonably enjoyable flick starring the late and great Anton Yelchin, Green Room wouldn't be the worst place to start.        

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