Band on the Run

The most terrifying villains are never monsters, only men — a fact that Green Room writer-director Jeremy Saulnier reiterates, most effectively, with his third feature film.

Set in the lush green backwoods of western Oregon, Green Room follows an unknown band as they run out of gas, lose a gig, get interviewed by that one enthusiastic fan every band has and then wind up playing a show in an even more out-of-the-way place than usual. The crowd doesn’t take the bait of the band’s Dead Kennedys cover, but this is far from a story about a bunch of punks provoking their way into a backwaters shitshow.

The tipping point, the thing that makes their violent hosts reveal themselves, is something else entirely. Trapped in the small backstage area, the band (including Anton Yelchin and Alia Shawkat, with Imogen Poots as a show-goer) tries to fight their way past men with knives, trained killer dogs and the club’s eerily calm owner (played by Patrick Stewart, all his usual grace turned to taut, deadly practicality).

Saulnier’s eye for the details of band life, from the perfectly dingy club to the roles each member plays off stage as well as on, gives Green Room the sense of accuracy, of believability, that makes its claustrophobic struggles all the more tense. Oregon’s woods have never looked quite so lonely. There’s another local bonus: Eugene-area actor Kasey Brown plays a “skinhead drummer.” (Broadway Metro