“Been Steph Curry wit the shot.” – Drake
A24 is a relatively new, independent studio that released its first film in 2013 and has been on a Steph Curry like hot streak for the past three years. They have brought us films like A Most Violent Year, Ex Machina, Room, and this year’s sensation, Moonlight. In four short years, they’re built up a confidence with me where I’ll check out just about any movie I know they’re involved in. Green Room is yet another quality film released by the company. Steph Curry with the shot indeed.
Green Room follows a young punk band from Arlington, VA (local shout out!) traveling and playing random shows in order to scrape together money to get by while trying to make it. After playing an unexpectedly low paying gig, the band agrees to play a higher paying one for a crowd of neo-nazis. After the show, as the band is leaving, a member goes back to the makeshift Green Room to retrieve a cell phone and walks in on a murder. The band is then forced back into the Green Room (along with a friend of the murder victim, played by Imogen Poots) where they’re stalled while the neo-nazis figure out how to get rid of them. The result is an engrossing, suspenseful thriller with elements of horror that keeps you on the edge of your seat as they fight to escape the venue and survive.
Although the movie enjoyed wide release this spring, I didn’t get to it until mid-December. I kind of regretted this because in light of the election of Donald Trump and subsequent rise/mainstreaming of the rebranded neo-nazis the alt-right since November 8th, the movie takes on new meaning. Watching these unsuspecting people underestimate working with and being in the same vicinity as neo-nazis only to have the predictable happen and them struggle to dig themselves out of the hole. As the plot develops, we also find that the old adage “There’s no honor amongst thieves” applies aptly to our neo-nazis and their own internal workings are woven into this game of cat and mouse and something else that the band has unwittingly put themselves in the middle of. We can only hope this aspect of film stays fiction and is not applicable to our own lives in the years to come.
Patrick Stewart plays Darcy, the leader of the neo-nazi gang and brings his usual quality acting to a villainous character, a turn from what the general audience is used to seeing from him. The diversion is a welcome change of pace and really showcases and reinforces his greatness as an actor. Anton Yelchin also shines as the band member Pat, one the quieter band members eventually forced to exhibit courage he may not have known he had. His performance during one of the first, highly tense scene and a later turning point really drive home the precarious, heart pounding situation these young people have found themselves in. Tragically, Yelchin died in May as a result of a freak accident involving a faulty Jeep Grand Cherokee model, only a month after Green Room’s nationwide release. This role, when coupled with his more known work in the Star Trek films, really could have been the start of the upward trajectory of his career. A tragic loss. Imogen Poots is superb as Amber, displaying a steely reserve after witnessing her friend’s murder and providing as much of an insider’s view of the venue as she and her new companions plot their escape.
All in all, Green Room is yet another score for A24 as the studio releases high quality film after high quality film. This seldom talked about film is definitely worth a watch and is one of 2016’s best.