Film Festival Movie Review

Film Review: GREEN ROOM: Neo-Nazi Torture Porn [Sundance 2016]


Imogen Poots Joe Cole Callum Turner Alia Shawkat Anton Yelchin Green Room

Green Room (2015) Film Review from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, a movie directed by Jeremy Saulnier, starring Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, and Patrick Stewart.

Following his Sundance debut in 2013 with Blue Ruin, director Jeremy Saulnier returns to the festival this year with a follow-up that he hopes “will leave you squirming in your seat.” And squirm the audience did – over, and over, and over! This is not a film for the faint of heart.

The film centers around a financially-strapped band that inadvertently finds itself held hostage in a Neo-Nazi enclave after accidentally witnessing a murder scene. A back-and-forth negotiation ensues with increasing tension and graphic brutality before the film’s unsatisfying, annihilistic climax.

The cast, led by Anton Yelchin, is sufficient given the film’s focus on disturbing the audience with extreme gore. Indeed, by the film’s end, the audience has been subjected to on-screen depictions of a hand being severed, a character being sliced open from waist-to-chest, a decapitation of sorts via shotgun to the head, and a face being chewed off by a rabid dog. The much-touted Patrick Stewart contributes in what amounts to a small supporting role as the leader of the Neo-Nazi group which, at times, seems to struggle more with infighting amongst itself than it does with those it holds hostage.

Though billed as more of a thriller, the film is clearly in “B-Movie Horror/Torture Porn” territory; the audience laughed out loud several times at the absurdity and gratuitousness (Have you ever seen a fire extinguisher used as a weapon?). The plot is fairly thin, with uneven pacing, little character development, and sometimes confounding, glaring plot holes. Indeed, the film is a jumble of contradictions: though it’s a gore-fest, the film is, at times, quite dull, and characters’ (especially the Neo-Nazis’) motives are somewhat hard to understand; the tension collapses with the distraction. The script isn’t terrible, but the pacing and editing are, leading to a disappointing result for an otherwise interesting and promising premise.

The film isn’t all bad; Jeremy Saulnier is clearly talented at catching the audience off guard, and he has great potential with better material.

While the film is sure to please hardcore fans of the genre, others may leave feeling alternately ambivalent and disturbed.

Green Room is screening at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in the non-competitive Spotlight category and has been acquired by A24 for an April 2016 release.

Rating: 4.5/10

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Image Source: Sundance Institute

 

About the author

Drew Stelter

Drew is a 26-year-old film buff. A native Utahan, he attends the Sundance Film Festival annually. He is a member of the Salt Lake Film Society. In a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he attended the Oscars Red Carpet on March 2, 2014, after winning an essay contest through the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. At any given time he can be expected to be conversing via movie quote GIFs.

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