Green Room, written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, is a taut horror thriller about a punk rock band that gets trapped in a bar with a bunch of neo-Nazis. There’s really not too much more to it than that, which is of course why this movie is so effective.

Green Room stars the colorfully named Imogen Poots as well as the late Anton Yelchin (who might have proven to be a transcendent talent –  he’s so good here, his performance so grounded), both of whom prove to be more than up for the challenge of this movie. Both are playing damaged, broken people and they don’t have a lot to work with within the confines of this action-filled movie but both feel memorable in their own ways.

Also appearing in the film is Sir Patrick Stewart as the neo-Nazi leader who owns the bar. He’s so delightfully menacing as he pulls the strings here, and even though he only has a few brief moments with the main characters, he manages to use those moments incredibly effectively. Even just his appearance is menacing, the way he walks, the glasses he wears and the way they frame his eyes.

Jeremy Saulnier is something of a newcomer, only having directed a couple of films previously (I haven’t seen them) but he has a background in cinematography that he proves is quite warranted here. Here he takes advantage of the tight spaces and dark corridors to great effect, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere that plays to the film’s strengths. The music by Brooke and Will Blair is effective, dark and moody.

Green Room is a lesson in simplicity on every level, gaining so much from its smallness, its minimalism. There’s a real understanding here of how to do a lot with a little, and there’s even a nice running joke about “desert island bands” thrown in for color too. Simply put, this is effective filmmaking.

Of note, Green Room also features Saulnier’s producing partner, Macon Blair, who recently made his directorial debut with I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore (2017) (which I panned). Though I didn’t love Blair’s debut, it does seem like these two have a quite fruitful partnership; between the two movies that I’ve seen from this team, there’s definitely an interesting discourse on what can be best described as redneck America. Not to be overly political, but in the current political climate, particularly with recent events in mind, this strikes me as a particularly fruitful area of exploration for this partnership. I’m curious to see what they come up with next.

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