Haircuts often define a generation or a movement whether it be the ponytails & curtains of the raver generation or the shaved head of the appropriately named skinheads. Quite what the bequiffed comb over of jaggly jowled, hothead Donald Trump means is anyone’s guess. ‘Green Room’ features the hardcore skinhead scene and has elfin faced Imogen Poots with possibly the worst haircut seen on screen in some time and in fairness it’s a credit to her performance that she doesn’t mind how awful she looks in character and we can’t really see Julia Roberts or Megan Fox sporting such a heinously ratty mullet as displayed here.
But bad haircuts are the least of the concerns of the characters seen in director Jeremy Saulnier’s follow up to his superb 2014 film ‘Blue Ruin’. The film opens with the 4 piece band, the Ain’t Rights (although Ain’t Good might be a better name) having fallen asleep at the wheel of their tour van slumped in the in a crop field. Collecting themselves the group, led by Anton Yelchin, meet up with a local journo who, having not been able to get them the radio interview they were promised, arranges a gig for them at an isolated venue which turns out to be a club for far right white power extremists. Arriving at the green room the writing’s literally on the wall with a number of poster, stickers, and graffiti expressing less than enlightened views about white power but as they need the money they ignore them anyway. They hardly endear themselves to the baying mob when they kick off their set with a rendition of the The Dead Kennedys karaoke classic, ‘Nazi Punks F**k off!’ Eventually they do get the crowd on side and they complete their gig with one of the band returning to the green room at the wrong time only to see something he quickly wishes he hadn’t and soon realise that the band are not going to be able to leave the venue – a fact further underlined when they’re menacingly told by the club manager that they’re not being kept there but rather being ‘asked’ to stay, not that they really have a choice, whilst they wait for the police to arrive. But when the club owner, a chillingly grim Patrick Stewart does arrive it’s clear that no one will ever be walking away from this.
If you saw ‘Blue Ruin’ you’ll know that Saulnier has a fascination with the effects and repercussions of violence and presents acts of brutality in full shocking unglorified realism. There are some almost unbearably tense moments punctuated by some truly wince inducing moments most notably a scene with a box cutter knife that has had every audience reeling. The violence, when it comes, is presented in a grimly authentic and messy manner which at times makes it uncomfortable to watch.
Patrick Stewart is in fine form in the type of role we’ve not seen him in before and his low key portrayal of the right power leader is chilling. Saulnier regular, actor Macon Blair, is good too as the club manager eager to prove himself but soon realising too late that, much like the band members, this is not something he does not want to be involved in. Perhaps not as good as ‘Blue Ruin’ this is ultimately a fish out of water siege movie but is another stunning film from the indie director and is destined to be one of the best thrillers we’ll see this year.