Green Room

I watched a couple of Eli Roth films the other day (Green Inferno and Aftershock). They were unsatisfying and I found myself comparing them unfavourably to Jeremy Saulnier’s tight, believable thriller. Green Room follows a hardcore punk band who after scratching a tour get offered a gig at a neo-nazi club in the middle of a forest. They stumble across a crime scene in the eponymous Green Room, and from there both sides are locked into an escalating series of confrontations.

Where this works over Roth’s films is that the latter are situated firmly in the horror genre, while Green Room is really a thriller. A second reason is that although Roth has grown more courageous in his set up – we get an hour or so of getting to know the characters – these are people we don’t want to spend time with. They are usually rich, spoilt white kids who are being brave travelling outside of America (which they will really come to regret). Green Room has a decent level of introduction, but crucially the characters are grounded and interesting. You believe this is a punk group, their terms of reference are knowing and their music is not the embarrassing pastiche of punk that would be created by a 45 year old Hollywood scriptwriter.

The film has it flaws, there are only so many times they can escape from the green room and return to it. And one of the likeable aspects of the film is its refusal to escalate to high levels of gore, conspiracy or horror. This is how this situation might well develop, and it has the confidence not to layer levels of excess upon it. But this is also one of its weaknesses, once the audience knows the set up, we are waiting then for it to follow its path, and there is little deviation from this.

But there’s a lot to like in this film, and a good way to appreciate its qualities is to imagine how it would have turned out under Roth’s hand.

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