I watch a lot of movies. In all honesty, though many of them are entertaining, few of them are truly excellent movies. Enter Green Room. Green Room tells the story of a punk rock band who thinks about nothing more serious than staying as true to their punk rock ideals as possible. Until after one fateful gig in the heart of Neo Nazi skinhead territory in the Pacific Northwest. From then on their main and only concern is survival.
It’s a pretty basic formula for a movie and one that’s been done in many forms. Where others fall flat and feel formulaic, Green Room was far more effective.
5 things Green Room did right:
1. Sir Patrick Stewart is the leader of the skinheads. Maybe I should put forth a full disclaimer of how big a Patrick Stewart fan I am. We did, after all, choose to watch this, because it was his birthday. That not withstanding, this is a side of Stewart rarely seen. As far playing villains, it’s not something he does enough in my opinion. He played one in the easily forgettable movie called Masterminds. He also was the best Captain Ahab on film to date. Here he leads a fantastic cast and shows how much his element it is as the calm and almost benign seeming Darcy.
“Gentlemen, you’re trapped. Things have gone south. No doubt. Now, whatever you saw, or did, is no longer my concern. But let’s be clear, it won’t end well.”
2. It feels realistic. If you’re going to set a movie in a scene, it’s really nice if it feels like the creators actually know that scene. Too many movies rely on tropes and cliches to get the point across. The beginning of this movie feels like my late teens/early 20s. It’s extremely realistically portrayed.
3. Everything has a point. The beginning of the movie starts off with two members of the band siphoning fuel so they can get their van on the road again. This ends up coming into play later in the film for a plan of the skinheads. Nothing feels like an extraneous moment and that keeps the tension high.
4. Nobody’s an idiot. Protagonists and antagonists are both realistically intelligent and dealing with a situation as best they can. This is actually the most refreshing thing about Green Room. Too often survival movies have to fall back on people doing stupid things in order for the story to move forward that no one would do in real life. No such case here. Traps are recognized as such, but they walk into them because they have no choice. When the protagonists decide to make a run for it, it’s out of desperation and they know they might not all make it. Little things like this make the movie more convincing.
“Now we won’t all live, but, I don’t know, maybe we won’t all die.”
5. It’s gory and brutal, but not unnecessarily so. I am a gore fan. I even enjoy movies that are just gore on gore strictly for the sake of gore. This is not the movie that would have worked in though. It could have easily gone this route, but wisely kept the hardcore scenes to a minimum and where they were most effective.
I highly recommend Green Room. It is that rare film that is tense, smart and entertaining. I even lost the dead pool we had going for who was going to survive and I rarely do that. (It’s a good thing, I promise. It means it’s not at all predictable.)
Let me know what you thought (about the film, the blog, how fucking amazing Sir Patrick Stewart is) in the comments.