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Green Room

Year: 2015
Production Co: Broad Green Pictures
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Writer: Jeremy Saulnier
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Patrick Stewart, Imogen Poots, Macon Blair, Alia Shawkat

How much you like Green Room might depend on how you responded to director Jeremy Saulnier's breakout hit Blue Ruin. Most critics loved the latter, but if you thought it was plodding bore, Green Room might leave you a bit cold too.

Like Blue Ruin, Green Room might prompt you to wonder if it's supposed to be a high class character study that just happens to have the backdrop of a violent thriller, or a violent thriller with more thought and life written (and performed) into the characters than most movies in similar genres.

It's certainly a good idea and a high concept as a down-on-their-luck punk band find what might be their last ditch effort to make some money – a gig at a bar in the middle of nowhere that turns out to be full of white supremacists.

It's actually not too clear what's happened as they stumble into the room of the title (if you're not in showbiz, that's the room performers hang out and prepare in before going on stage or on camera). There's a girl dead on the floor with a knife in her head, a friend of hers, Amber (Imogen Poots) standing by and the thuggish bouncer telling them all to sit tight while the cops arrive.

Exactly how the story gets from that to the band and Amber locked in the room with the Nazis outside – led by quietly fearsome leader Darcy (Patrick Stewart) – trying to get inside and kill them all isn't very clear. It might be just that they witnessed a murder and it's worth it for the bad guys to make them disappear too rather than tip the cops off to their remote headquarters.

The reason they want to keep the killing and their place so secret isn't revealed until much later (if at all – it's another detail that's not very clear), by which time it's descended into an apocalyptic siege movie so full of blood and gore it's like an early Peter Jackson got arthouse pretensions instead of jumping straight to big budget fantasy.

Like Blue Ruin, Saulnier is more interested in tension than thrills, action, blood or any of the other dramatic screen elements of a thriller, and when Green Room's climax arrives it contains an oversupply of those elements. Spreading them out a little might have made a more interesting story, the slow burn quality people loved about Blue Ruin only serves to bury the actual plot and good actors with good dialogue do not a good thriller make.

It's always worth watching a movie for the firebrand talent of Alia Shawkat, but once again the late Anton Yelchin has too high a voice and eyes too wide with wonder to convincingly play a knowing or cynical grownup.

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