By Bill Wine

By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When the estimable Patrick Stewart turns up as a key character – in a way, THE key character – in “Green Room,” it at first seems as if he has mistakenly beamed down from a Star Trek movie or mutated over from an X-Men flick.

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But, no, Stewart is actually there in what seems like a midnight movie if ever there were one.

Bravely, daring to sport a premise that is off-putting from the get-go, “Green Room” pits punk rockers against neo-Nazis.

It’s a suspense/horror thriller that offers an admirable slow build and barely resists the temptation to turn into torture porn. But it never quite climbs out of the genre pit from which it sprouted.

Think of it as ordinary punk rockers in extraordinarily threatening circumstances.

 

(2 stars out of 4)

(2 stars out of 4)

 

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Desperate for money, a struggling punk rock band, the Ain’t Rights (Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, and Callum Turner), accepts a modest paying gig in a club in the backwoods of Oregon that seems to be, given the Confederate flags and Nazi insignias on the walls, run by and catering to maniacal, swastika-tattooed, neo-Nazi skinheads.

But after they finish their set and as they prepare to leave, they discover the dead body of a woman with a knife in her head in the titular room, something they were certainly not meant to see. The murder victim’s best friend (Imogen Poots) is also there, as is a gun and several bullets. So they lock themselves in.

Meanwhile, the club’s owner, a cold-blooded skinhead leader played by Patrick Stewart, arrives and tells his angry and violent, white-supremacist followers that they must cover up the crime by preventing the band members from leaving – or from growing any older.

So the terrified musicians, in a struggle to survive, must demonstrate their pluck and resourcefulness by defending themselves and then escaping, What we have on our hands, in other words, is a reverse invasion flick in which the victims have done the invading.

Writer-director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Murder Party) is a director to watch, and he achieves the realistic viciousness and brutality he’s after. But his film is also oppressively humorless, and the blood-soaked climax has ho-hum-here-we-go-again familiarity and predictability.

So we’ll cover up 2 stars out of 4 for a tense but grisly and unpleasant thriller with a high, R-rated body count. Green Room has its moments, but not enough of them to make us forget those other sickly moments that have made us green, but not with envy.

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