Tuesday, 17 May 2016
Thrown together by strange, transgressive violence, Green Room's central characters are, essentially, children being fed into a well-oiled machine. Patrick Stewart's neo-Nazi club owner is obviously no stranger to hosing down the walls of his black-lit dungeon. He has a checklist for just these kind of situations, a mental Rolodex brimming with attack dog handlers and mean little punks desperate to make their bones. There's an element of routine in his actions, a light boredom that translates into low-level frustration rather than seething, atomic anger. He doesn't doubt his victory, he's already constructed a credible scenario for the slaughter of these teenagers, it's just a matter of assembling the parts.
As with his previous film Blue Ruin, writer-director Jeremy Saulnier is fascinated by the logistics of confrontation. When Saulnier's players converge they don't slot together like puzzle pieces in some cosmic drama, Saulnier instead focuses on the fumbles, the anxious, sweaty attempts to make the most of fleeting opportunity. Green Room is action as a series of dramatic beats explicitly founded in character moments. There is no concert, the film's players are two desperate teams of individuals trying to achieve co-operation. Green Room's brilliance then lies in how these attempts are communicated. Saulnier weaves in false-starts and mistakes, temporary allies try to help each other, but just as often they end up massaging a situation just enough that their team-mates start to think they have it in hand. Such arrogance is, of course, punished ruthlessly.