2013's Kickstarter funded thriller Blue Ruin came out of nowhere and took the whole world by storm, proving to be an incredible surprise. This year, director Jeremy Saulnier is back for his second, sophomore feature, the thriller Green Room, which has been doing its festival rounds - gaining lots of momentum and buzz in the process. Here's my review of it.

When I decided to watch Blue Ruin, after a glowing recommendation from one of my friends, I instantly fell in love with Saulnier's slow-burning, intense revenge thriller and his slick direction and attention to detail. Ever since, I have been eagerly awaiting the director's follow-up, Green Room (as he progresses his way through the visible colour spectrum), which I was lucky enough to check out at this year's Glasgow Film Fest - back in February. Due to a busy schedule and prioritising of other articles, I haven't gotten around to publishing this review until now. However, I can say that the white-knuckle thriller has certainly remained firmly cemented in my mind. This film is incredible. It's violent, gory, relentless and a testament to Saulnier if the film is still as fresh in my mind today as it was the night I saw it: for all the right reasons.

The film begins by introducing us to its fictitious and struggling punk band the Ain't Rights, with their lead screamer/singer Tiger (Callum Turner), bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin), drummer Reece (Joe Cole) and guitarist Sam (Alicia Shawkat), all hung over and stranded in a cornfield. Strapped for cash, the group reluctantly take a gig to perform in a skinead commune, in the backwoods of Oregon, run by white supremacists - led by the merciless and chilling drug lord Darcy (Sir Patrick Stewart). When the punk band collective decide to vex the neo-Nazi audience by performing a cover of Dead Kennedy's 'Nazi Punks F**k Off', it doesn't go down too well for them. However, things begin to really go awry when the friends heedlessly stumble upon a young girl being murdered before their eyes. When Darcy and his skinhead henchmen group arrive to cover up the scene and get rid of all witnesses, the group, alongside the girl's surviving friend Amber (Imogen Poots), barricade themselves inside the green room and devise an escape plan.

As he did so successfully in his debut feature, Saulnier manages to create such an unnerving atmosphere here and he so beautifully and tentatively orchestrates the tension to ever so slowly coil around its audience and continue winding and continue tightening around them, like a snake suffocating its prey, as the film progresses. Green Room is an incredibly thrilling and incredibly tense film. However, it takes a very atypical and fresh approach in creating its tension and really enthralling the audience but it works so successfully as this film reaches excruciatingly unbearable heights of nail-biting intensity through the use of some intense music, some great camera work and such an ambiguous, unpredictable atmosphere and narrative that refuses to let up. Saulnier's direction and writing is slick and smart and he has created a film that is unforgiving, gripping its audience like a vice, with some adrenaline-fueled, blood-soaked action and stomach-turning intensity; a film that doesn't stop to slow down for even a second and keeps the ball rolling and keeps the screw tightening, cranking up the volume.
However, what makes this film so different from its predecessor is the action. Blue Ruin or Green Room, Saulnier certainly likes the visual appeal of Blood Red and it's in abundance in his second feature. This film is relentless and gory and Saulnier doesn't hold back one bit when it comes to the violence we see depicted within this project; this is sheer brutality and sadistic violence and he really goes for it. There are hackings and stabbings and heads and limbs bring chopped off and blood being spilt everywhere and the gore and guts just does not stop; visually relentless and disturbing, making even the most hardcore of moviegoers wince in their seats. Green Room is certainly not a film for the faint of heart. Yet, what makes separates this film from most B-rate slasher films is just how well helmed and executed the action is. Sure, this is a bloody, violent gore-fest but it isn't randomly chaotic or unnecessary and it all adds to the layer of nuance of this film because of how we invest into this story and we empathise with these characters; we root for them to succeed so, as soon as the violence and mauling's begin, there are stakes and the tension is furthered.

The acting is great too and everyone delivers commendable performances. There is some veritable chemistry between the Ain't Rights and we believe their friendship, their camaraderie and their love for their music. Imogen Poots is a standout as Amber, who emerges as the group's surprise powerhouse. The actress really embraces the physicality and the madness of this film and really humanises her character, brutal yet innocent. However, it's Sir Patrick Stewart that steals the show entirely. Having always stayed on the good side with his roles, having spent most of his career played morally right and heroic characters, it's a rarity seeing the aging actor in a villainous role and it is a true delight as Stewart relishes in the antagonist's hot seat. The way he carries himself and the way he really sinks into the role makes for a truly terrifying characters who's mere presence is intimidating and unsettling; a very restrained yet powerful performance. It's just a shame that we don't get too see much more of him than we do within the film.

Whilst his films are certainly more independent, Jeremy Saulnier is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with, as a growing and fresh new voice in the industry. He has created a film that is relentless, gory, tense and truly terrifying from the off-set. Now, whilst a more subdued and calming finale feels a little out of place and rushed, you can't help but adore this piece of cinema and admire Saulnier's remarkable craftsmanship; this is a stylish and wholly unique picture that is subtle yet effective and it should be said that the dingy, grimy green lighting throughout really adds to the atmosphere and the ambience. Green Room is not for everyone and it may even get a bit much for the most hard-core of people at times but it doesn't take away from the fact that is a hauntingly beautiful thriller... both haunting and beautiful.

Pulse-pounding and nail-bitingly intense, Green Room is a chillingly gruesome picture that is relentless, unforgiving and shocking; Jeremy Saulnier has delivered another remarkable, break-neck piece of cinema.

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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