Imogen Poots, Patrick Steward, Brownie and Grimm
Viewed Tyneside Cinema 28 May 2016; ticket: £8.75
Like the frozen yoghurt and the noodle business, the industrial film thrives on playing out endless variations of the same plot.Green Room is no more than a video game movie in which a posh English actress with the gun and box cutter is allowed (scripted) to win.
Saulnier’s Green Room works out with the format of teenage entrapment by forces of evil – bogie men.The bogie men in the cupboard decked out as proto white supremicists, but basically just plain old bogie men in the cupboard. Saulnier’s movie lacks any idiosyncratic or cultish distinction: Chainsaw massacre it is not. Green Room lacks the imaginative stylisation and deep black comedic rituals of the cult slaughter movie.
It also lacks even the social cultural themes of the movie such Carpenter’s Escape from New York or Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace.The latter film which although violently formulaic and lurching into parody, neverthelessin its title and in its expressive characterisation calls up the dark forces worming through the flesh of United States of America, psychically legitimising the corruption od violence in the name of an enraged ‘id’. Cooper’s film crudely but effectively pre-empts the politics ofDonald Trump, both as parody and as expression of the infantilised rage that defines contemporary politics. In ‘Out of the Furnace’ Woody Harrelson’s performance as Harlan is the film’s psychopathic core.In the film’s opening sequence, set in a drive-in movie theatre, Harrelson maps out the film’s territory, as he defines and demonstrates his visceral understanding of human relations.In comparison, Patrick Steward’s playing of Green Room’s villain, Darcy, is something of a pussy cat.Darcy is motivated more by the banality of money than any deeper gloomier psychic intolerance. Harrelson and Steward both do the ‘hard eye’ thing, but Harrelson does it to the greater effect.
Set against the idea of a situation in which a touring punk band gets slammed up in a venue for seeing something they didn’t ought to have seen, Saulnier as director/writersimply spins together some punk dialogue, some bad-ass backwoodsmen, guns machetes, couple of adorable bull terriers called Brownie and Grimm, and like a pot-pourri cocktale shakes them all about.The result is a movie without an idea or even the notion of an idea, a feeble attempt to pitchthe forces of good and evil against each other.It is a structure without a concept that ends up as a mechanised combinational tryst that is not a movie but a video game. .