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Green Room


Stars: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Mark Webber, Eric Edelstein, Macon Blair, Kai Lennox, Patrick Stewar

Director: Jeremy Saulnier

The auteur theory has a lot to answer for.

It’s all too easy to name one and then automatically find all their work auteur-inspired and therefore ideal.

Jeremy Saulnier achieved significant auteur status from critics for his second feature, Blue Ruin in 2013.

Now, three years later, that status has served him well in ensuring he has garnered excellent reviews as the writer and director of this well-made but hardly groundbreaking shocker charting the unfortunate fates that befall the members of down-on-their-luck punk rock band Callum Turner, Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat and Joe Cole.

We first meet the musicians after their truck has been run off the road and crashed into a large field of corn.

However I felt that a great deal of what follows, well-staged though it may be and nastier than the average shocker as Saulnier racks up the slice and dice suspense and segues into torture-porn territory, might well be seen as derivative, not to say corny, especially by horrorflick addicts (OK, I admit it) like myself.

When, having stolen the fuel needed to get their van going again, the luckless musicians accept a gig in a backwoods Oregon roadhouse and unfortunately antagonize the largely White Supremacist audience with ultimately fatal results.

Then, after discovering a murder victim in the roadhouse, they are brutally picked off one by one and slaughtered in clichéd blood-gushing genre style . To give Saulnier his due, despite frequent seen-it-all-before genre sets-ups, he succeeds in creating excellent suspense.

For me the one genuinely surprising element was the casting of Patrick Stewart (with an interesting, possibly Oregon?, accent) as the sadistic leader of the Supremacists.

A unique performance and genuinely scary – like the vividly overrated film itself: as for the director’s claim to auteur status – for me the jury is still out until he delivers a couple more (and hopefully more inspired) movies.

It might have stood out more in the sadly long-dead heyday of second features: here it's basically just another soon-to-be DVD nasty.

Alan Frank

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Picturehouse Entertainment. Colour.
95 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 22 May 2016