SHOCK reviews D Films’ Blu-ray/DVD release of Jeremy Saulnier’s GREEN ROOM.
It’s heartbreaking to watch GREEN ROOM now, writer/director Jeremy Saulnier’s riff on RIO BRAVO with neo-Nazi’s and punk rockers replacing bandits and lawmen. In time, that weight will vanish, or at least ebb. But for now, coming only weeks after the accidental death of its lead actor Anton Yelchin, viewing the new Blu-ray release is a far more upsetting experience that it was originally intended to be. Because Yelchin was a fine young actor. He was a solid child actor (watch him hold his own with Sir Anthony Hopkins in the unfairly ignored Stephen King drama HEARTS IN ATLANTIS) and he evolved into a reliable, energetic presence in a myriad genre films, from the remake of FRIGHT NIGHT to ODD THOMAS to BURYING THE EX and beyond.
And he’s so very good in GREEN ROOM.
And GREEN ROOM is so very good.
Saulnier’s scrappy seige opera was critically lauded in its festival run and healthy theatrical release and with legitimate reasons. The film is a kinetic middle finger to contemporary Hollywood thrillers, jerking viewers emotions around and battering them with extreme violence and extremely realized performances by a universally excellent cast.
Yelchin is the film’s core, starring as a member of a young punk band whose tour has hit the skids. When the group reluctantly accepts a gig playing at a skinhead club, they accidentally witness the aftershocks of a murder and, in a panic, the Nazi scum lock the band in the green room of the title. While they deliberate on what to do with their prisoners, the owner of the club and leader of the skins (Patrick Stewart, who snarls his dialogue in one of the most calmly frightening performances in recent memory) takes control, hatching a plan to use flesh-hungry dogs to eliminate the rock and roll witnesses.
If you haven’t seen GREEN ROOM, to spill more would be sad as the film’s many pleasures derive from watching these characters – on both sides of the conflicting fence – evolve and interact in the span of one very volatile – and stomach-churningly gory – night.
D Films‘ Canadian Blu-ray (and the only slightly less-lovely DVD it comes packaged with) release looks sumptuous, a 2:40:1 widescreen image that exemplifies Saulnier’s choice to give the film a color tint that matches the film’s title. For a film that takes place primarily at night in a single location, the movie often glows, like neon, with deep blacks and bright red blood and a sickly, sexy green sheen.
Supplements are sparse, with a lively Saulnier commentary and an EPK making-of doc. Of course, both of these features were produced before Yelchin’s untimely passing, making the entire package a bit of a melancholy affair.
There were many, many more movies left in Anton Yelchin and his future was bright. But on a positive note, the fact that one of his final – and finest – performances comes embedded in this brutal, deftly constructed shocker, is a small mercy indeed.