It’s difficult to begin a review of Green Room without mentioning the tragedy of Anton Yelchin’s death. Green Room was Yelchin’s last theatrical release prior to his death. For those, like me, who fell in love with him as the youthful Chekhov on the Star Trek movie reboot or perhaps as the disturbed teen with homicidal OCD on Criminal Minds, we lost a quietly charming, sharp-featured talent far too soon.
What I liked about this movie was that, although Yelchin’s character could be called the protagonist, the story didn’t rest on him, nor did he have to carry it. Yelchin is quite comfortable taking a humbler place, and it’s part of what allows him to blend in wherever he’s cast. He’s not a chameleon, but he’s undemanding, which really lets a story shine through whatever star power he could have if he wanted it.
Imogen Poots has horror cred, but Patrick Stewart was the real name in this movie. Yet not even Stewart overpowers the movie. The director’s use of him was smart, his choices more understated than the usual warmth and gravitas that he brings to a screen. In fact, it’s a completely unexpected choice. It’s hard to believe that we live in a universe in which Stewart plays a neo-Nazi leader, but not making him a scene-chewing villain saved this movie from being something forgettable.
Instead, our actors just play people. The band is completely out of their depth, with the strongest of them among the first to get cut down, because authority issues and a background in school wrestling aren’t that effective against fighting dogs and shotguns. Yelchin is just a pale, skinny cinnamon roll who is woefully out of his depth in a fight situation, which is a point he makes in a really good monologue peptalk about paintball (that was apparently based on a real event that the director experienced). And Stewart and the other neo-Nazis are utterly banal evil, their matter-of-fact racism an armor for greed. The kills are vicious and extreme but without fanfare, and unlike slashers, senseless.
Green Room is a stark, smart, tight, intense, realistic indie horror thriller. Completely recommend.