Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Halloween List: The Green Room (AKA Patrick Stewart?!)

Patrick Stewart plays the leader of a ground of backwoods skinheads trying to kill a Punk band.

Patrick Freaking Stewart. Captain Picard. Professor X. On his evilest day he was Captain Ahab, which was fine because that guy came out of a classic novel. The moment that Stewart walks into The Green Room and casually asks for the situation before instructing his fellow skinheads on the best way to break into a locked room and kill off the rest of the witnesses, it is jarring. This is Stewart barely changing his accent, just dropping a little of his warmth to fit in with the other drug runners.

The simple plot follows a never-gonna-be Punk band playing in the least popular venues. After doing an afternoon show at a taco hut, they drive into the woods for a rural bar. In a movie with several awkwardly funny moments, they open their set with a song deriding Nazis, while skinheads in the crowd check their swastika shirts and SS tattoos. I don’t believe in blaming victims, but at a certain point you might be asking to be the victims in a Horror movie.

It goes back to an unwritten rule: if you have to be in a Horror movie, and you have to make bad choices, make the funny ones. The way their set goes is perversely amusing, all the way up to the band witnessing something that makes them targets. They lock themselves in the bar’s office and try to find a way summon the police. But help isn’t coming.

The thing that sticks with you is the movie’s approach to violence. It has no style, and that’s more disturbing than all the stylistic violence I’ve seen in movies this month. It doesn't zoom in on a head shot, or pair loud sound effects with a stabbing. There are no cinematic blood spurts. People are cut and bitten in intensely lifelike fashion, and you'll expect the camera to pull away when someone's abdomen is slashed, but it doesn't. It just shows what's going on, without any special cutting or editing, treating the violence as mundanely as when someone is hurt in real life. Because the practical effects are so strong, it feels like you're seeing real violence. It freaked me out, and the lady I was watching it with.

The violence elevates the movie above typical stand-offs. After waiting a long time for the first incident, you quickly feel like anytime someone is grabbed or shot, it will be awful. This violence is something the characters feel justified in fighting madly to avoid.

At first I wasn’t aware that Anton Yelchin is in this movie, too. He played Chekov in the Star Trek reboots until his untimely death this year. Like in those movies, he carries himself with an adorable vulnerability, set apart from his pricklier friends in the band. He’s a good center for tension, if you can look past someone who actually recently died spending a movie in peril. I don’t blame you if that’s too much.


  1. Yikes. I remember when we watched The Village, and the stab scene is like that--true to life. It left us feeling sick. It also kinda left me wishing violence was portrayed true to life in all movies so that people understood it's not glorious. It's disturbing. And sad.

  2. Interesting - and so very sad, that real violence is confronting. Echoing Crystal.

  3. Two Star Trek actors? I'll have to check it out.


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