I'm quickly becoming a huge fan of Saulnier's work. His film BLUE RUIN would have been my favorite film of 2013, but did not know about it until the following year. And GREEN ROOM is on the fast track to become my favorite of 2016. If not number one, then definitely somewhere in the Top 10.
Punk rock band The Ain't Rights are on tour. In true punk rock fashion they are a band that is barely getting by. You know times are rough when you have to siphon gas to keep the tour van going. During a interview for a promoter's local 'zine' the band mention they don't even have enough money to press a new EP record.
After some miss communication with the promoter and only making seven dollars a piece between them, The Ain't Rights decide to call off the tour and siphon their way back home. The promoter says he can make it up to them by setting up another gig in town. Reluctant at first, the band decides to play because after all a gig is a gig.
So The Ain't Rights show up to the venue and they find out their playing at a neo-Nazi bar. They make the best of it by starting off the set with a cover from The Dead Kennedys called 'Fuck Off Nazi Punks'. Once in a lifetime opportunity, am I right!
After the set they want nothing more than to get outta the place fast as possible. Sam, the guitarist leaves her phone in the green room. Pat, the bass player (and main character) goes and gets it for her. Witnessing a murder in the room, Pat tells them to run like hell while he calls 911. Extremely outnumbered, the band is forced to against their will to wait in the green room. What happens next is some of the most intense moments I've seen in a movie this year!
Like BLUE RUIN I was impressed with the use of color in GREEN ROOM. Set in the pacific northwest, we see lots of lush forest green. There is also subtle use of the color green throughout. Things like lime colored brake lines on a bicycle. BLUE RUIN was full of stuff like that! It'd be interesting to know how much of that was planned or just plain coincidence?
Another similarity in both films is the portrayal of violence and gore. BLUE RUIN is a revenge film that becomes a deconstruction of the genre, thus becoming an anti-revenge film. The violence and gore that the movie's protagonist dishes out becomes the opposite of cathartic. Saulnier really hit a home run with the message that when it comes to revenge, no one is a winner.
The violence in GREEN ROOM is no different. And what makes the tension so effective (in my opinion) is that this nightmare happening to the punk rock band feels real. This is how pacifists would act in a situation like this. And when the nasty things happen it's brutal. GREEN ROOM isn't as deep as BLUE RUIN. Maybe it is and I just need to watch it a few more times before it hits me like a ton of bricks. Until then, it's a shockingly violent but gorgeously photographed grindhouse film.