The members of a punk band, The Ain’t Rights, live their lives from concert to concert in a van. They make little money off their shows and resort to siphoning gas from others’ cars when they cannot afford to buy gas themselves. They have no social media presence, nor do they want to. They live the punk lifestyle to its pinnacle. When struggling to find their next gig, a local radio host invites them to play at a neo-Nazi bar. After accidentally witnessing the aftermath of a murder, the band is held in the green room they rehearsed in prior to the concert.
Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room shares a trait or two with Blue Ruin, but diverges almost entirely in that it is better thought of as a thriller or a horror film rather than a character drama. We know almost nothing about the punk musicians and are not given any reason to hope for their survival. Note that I have written this review without feeling compelled to mention a single character. This isn’t a criticism in itself; however, it is an observation that Green Room depends more so on atmosphere and tension rather than forming impressions of its characters, punk musicians and neo-Nazis alike. Since Saulnier is known for depicting extensive violence in his films, one almost hopes that the entire punk band is slain in favor of the value of a thrill.
Green Room possesses the same trope of normal people in unbelievable circumstances as in Blue Ruin, but the punk band displays a stronger ability to fight then Dwight. They are greater in number and superior in their capacity to commit violent acts in self-defense. Despite their creativity and desperation for survival, every time the characters exit the room to flee the bar, the most able character dies. Green Room’s story diminishes from terrifying to banal or unbelievable through these repetitive sequences. To be certain, Saulnier is highly capable of inducing tension and fear amongst audience members, but his skill is forcefully diminished as the film progresses and we come to expect that there will at least be one survivor to escape the neo-Nazis.
Green Room possesses little in terms of themes- I believe there is no commentary or insight about violence that Saulnier wishes to suggest. When violence is as realistically portrayed as in his film, one considers if there is an intended message behind it. Nonetheless, Green Room isn’t as incessantly bleak as films that depict and critique violence such as Irreversible.