Blue Ruin, Green Room.
Writer-director Jeremy Saulnier is certainly not a director afraid to deal in primal colors: the bright green woodlands of Oregon into which down-on-their-luck punk band The Ain’t Rights stray, playing an impromptu gig to an audience of neo-Nazis; the visceral red of the horrific gore that results when band member Pat (an endearingly mumbly Anton Yelchin) stumbles upon a murder.
While the band barricade themselves up, sure they too are shortly to fall victim to the rabid right-wingers (well, technically ultra left), the venue’s calculating proprietor Darcy (Sir Patrick Stewart, compelling if distractingly cast) arrives on the scene, determined to resolve the situation – by any means.
The film is certainly primal, too. Saulnier turns what could be standard exploitation fare into a gruesome exercise in tension. As the band searches desperately for an escape from the sickly-lit, swastika-bedecked dive bar, Pat, vengeful non-band member Amber (Imogen Poots), green-haired lead vocalist Tiger (Callum Turner), jujitsu-proficient Reese (Pressure’s Joe Cole), and lone female band member Sam (Night Moves’ Alia Shawkat) are variously maimed and mutilated, as are the waves of goons Darcy sends after them.
To borrow a famous horror tagline, “Who will survive and what will be left of them?”. Throats are torn out, limbs hacked and broken, innards exposed, and Saulnier’s camera does not shy away. The 38-year-old Brooklynite has established his milieu as one of grungy backwoods and savage vendettas, occasionally so shockingly grisly and unpleasant as to be borderline comic. Blue Ruin’s Blair Macon appears, almost unrecognizable as the bar’s unenthusiastic, not-quite-skinhead manager.
More polished, less character-driven than its predecessor, Green Room has a nihilistic streak to it that may deter those who like a moral to their carnage. We, however, can’t wait to see what’s next on the palette.