Green Room (2016) Review

green room

The Ain’t Rights, the band that “stars” in Green Room, has been struggling to receive enough money for food and gas. At the film’s opener, they are in their tour van which turned off the road into a corn field. After a connection leads them to the middle of nowhere, Oregon, the band awkwardly finds themselves on stage at a neo-Nazi compound. Being the punks that they are, and since one of the band members is already wearing a shirt representing the Dead Kennedys (a cornerstone of punk), the band decides at the last minute to start the set with a song by the Dead Kennedys titled “Nazi punks f*ck off.” They do this in spite of already knowing they are in a room filled with belligerent Nazi punks, in the middle of nowhere, Oregon. Bottles are thrown on stage, but luckily it’s a short song and apparently these neo-Nazis have a short memory because the minute the next song starts they are all dancing. It seems that all is forgiven.

It’s just after this clumsy scene that Green Room loses its way in becoming a suspenseful horror film. Really, this actually isn’t even horror. This is a drama-thriller with some minor gore. Throughout the “suspense” of the dull, chatty-filled last 45 minutes, dogs chew up people, an arm is slashed (off screen, though we see the results), gun shots are fired and someone for no reason at all slices a guy’s abdomen while he’s in a sleeper hold, about to pass out (when he’s not held in an arm lock to show off some wrestling skills, that is). Not that any of the gore is very convincing or is delivered with finesse.

Just when they were ready to leave the venue, the Ain’t Rights stumble upon a murder in the “green” room (where the band hangs out before going on stage). A girl is laying dead on the floor, knife in the side of her head, blood spilling on floor. Why that method of killing is chosen is just ridiculous. Now, the group is held hostage by people who are attempting to cover up the murder and presumably hide other crimes of the past.

Eventually the protagonists make their way through some floor boards and into a basement where there could have been something down there to help them escape, fight back, or blow up the place. But alas, there’s nothing down there. Complete waste of time for the movie. But at least they got out of the green room for a few minutes, right? Problem is, there are never any interesting ideas for fighting back. Maybe that makes things more realistic, but certainly does not make for an exciting film.

Meanwhile, we wait for some kind of larger revelation of crime the villains are hiding. Or even why a knife was put into a girl’s head. Some or all of this might have been mumbled along the way. But the dialogue is so muddled that it’s difficult to follow. This can partially be blamed on the performance by Patrick Stewart, who completely lacks personality here. Wait, what!? Yes, Patrick Stewart is here to manage the dozens of inconsistent, uninteresting characters who either disappear, have a sudden change of heart or follow orders to finish this monotonous, never-ending job.

Had there been more focus, more cunning ideas of survival tactics and less characters of which to keep track, then Green Room might have pulled off something special. Instead, it only seems to battle itself with wasted scenes and tedious dialogue, of which there is a staggering amount.

Before the melee, we get to know the characters partially via a cliche interview. [Not verbatim] Why no social media? “It’s about the moment of playing the music.” Desert island band? “Black Sabbath. No no, wait, Misfits.” Something like that. But it doesn’t really matter. Oh wait. It’s referenced at the very end of the movie. One of the two surviving characters asks the other, who wasn’t even present at that interview, if she wants to know his desert island band (why?). “Ask someone who gives a shit,” is her deflated response. Scene ends, movie over. Not clever. [rating: $2] –Kenyon