Starving Out Artists
by Brody Rossiter
The life of a travelling punk band is tough. A gruelling tour that consists of hundreds of miles spent cramped in the back of a van, only to arrive at shows in equally claustrophobic and dingy dive bars. Money is scarce, gas is siphoned from the cars of strangers and the possibility of making it big seemingly gets a little further away with every frustrating performance.
Starring the recently departed Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart, Green Room focuses upon one such collective of struggling artists and their struggles to make ends meet on the road. After a gig falls through and the band are forced to rescue their tour by performing in the backwaters of the Pacific Northwest for a group of skinheads, existence on the road quickly becomes a fight for survival.
What begins as a sedate, wistful biography of a group of young adults driven by their hardcore ideals yet withered by the reality of a seemingly unattainable dream, quickly becomes a brutish yet surprisingly operatic exercise in violence. After witnessing heinous crime, the band are left stuck behind enemy neo-Nazi lines. When club owner Darcy arrives (Patrick Stewart) to clean up his brothers’ mess, the group’s chances of survival quickly take a nosedive and they are forced to fight their way out.
With a cast consisting of talented young stars (Ali Shawkat, Imogen Poots, Joe Cole) and seasoned character actors, Green Room quickly becomes a powerful and rewarding thriller bolstered by its commitment to unleashing waves of violence undercut by a thrashing hardcore score. Stripped down to its cruel and uncompromising core, the films horror grows atop the lurid green visuals, gnawing at your psyche and forcing you to stomach more exploitative extremity.
Raw, cool and gripping from the very beginning, Jeremy Saulnier’s picture is a distinctive and intelligent contemporary horror that grabs hold and doesn’t let go – it saws your arm off instead.