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Green Room | Film review - Punks vs skins in relentlessly tense siege thriller

Green Room Joe Cole Callum Turner Anton Yelchin Alia Shawkat.jpg

An ill-fated punk band incurs the wrath of murderous neo-Nazis in Green Room, Jeremy Saulnier’s exhilarating follow-up to his terrific low-budget revenge thriller Blue Ruin.

The hard-up group, The Ain’t Rights, land in this plight after taking a last-minute gig at a scuzzy club deep in the Oregon backwoods. Having already antagonised the venue’s skinhead clientele with their opening number, a cover of the Dead Kennedys' blistering anthem ‘Nazi Punks F- Off’, they find themselves in even deeper water after their set by witnessing the aftermath of a murder in the club’s green room.

With the club’s white supremacist owner Darcy (played by a quietly venomous Patrick Stewart) marshalling his troops to dispose of the inconvenient bystanders, the musicians face up to the life or death struggle that lies ahead.

As the situation plays out, Saulnier delivers relentless, foot-to-the-floor thrills worthy of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, but what makes his film even more impressive is the way it supplies convincing psychologies for its hunters and hunted alike. No one suddenly develops implausibly heroic abilities. Everyone remains in character from start to finish. Equally credibly, the action is messy and contingent, with wrong turns and missteps pursued to fateful ends.

This doesn’t stop the movie from being breathlessly streamlined and nor does it close off opportunities for dark humour. (“They run a tight ship.” “Except it’s a U-Boat.”). Add gritty performances from the uniformly excellent cast (including Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole and Callum Turner as the band; Imogen Poots as their similarly imperilled ally; and Saulnier’s long-term collaborator Macon Blair, star of Blue Ruin, as the club's hangdog manager) and Green Room well deserves the cult status it will surely win.

Certificate 18. Runtime 94 mins. Director Jeremy Saulnier

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.