A punk band stumbles across a murder scene backstage after a show at a rough backwoods bar full of neo-Nazi skinheads.

Macon Blair plays the club manager Gabe, reuniting with director Jeremy Saulnier after starring in 2013’s Blue Ruin. Gabe and the bar staff round up the band after catching Pat (Anton Yelchin) trying to call 911 to report the murder. He keeps them locked in the green room with the corpse and a woman who witnessed the murder, played by Imogen Poots. Gabe calls the club owner, Darcy, played by Patrick Stewart in a role unlike any we’ve seen him play before.

The plot becomes the struggle between the band’s struggle to stay alive and escape, and 4 starsDarcy’s plan to cover up the murder and keep the band quiet by any means necessary. He closes the bar in the middle of the show, claiming technical difficulties, and reminds all of them of their greater purpose, leaving them with the parting words, “Remember, this is not a party; it’s a movement.”

The idea that Gabe has some greater political purpose and motivation is the only thing that explains his actions. Because if he were just the owner of a hardcore punk bar patronized by neo-Nazis, would a murder on site really be bad for business? It would only enhance the outlaw appeal of the establishment if word got out that the bar parties so hard people are occasionally killed there. Looking at the people in the bar early in the movie, would any of them avoid going there in the future because it was a murder scene? Of course not.

Ah, I said to myself, perhaps Darcy knows that if the police show up, they’d have to close the bar down for at least the rest of the day to complete their investigation. But then Darcy closes the bar himself so he can deal with the situation. The plot hinges on the owner’s absolute need to cover up the murder, and I’m not convinced that need is ever really established.

But it’s the tension, the atmosphere and the performances that fuel Green Room and make it work so well regardless. You really believe the band members are scared for their lives, and it becomes clear they should be. This is one of the last performances of Anton Yelchin and a reminder of what a good actor he was.

The look and feel of Green Room is unmistakably similar to Saulnier’s previous movie, Blue Ruin. As a director who is only in his late thirties, I look forward to seeing many more movies from him.

Title Green Room
Director Jeremy Saulnier
Starring Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat
Writer Jeremy Saulnier
Production Broad Green Pictures, Film Science