Green Room: Salad Days - Setting the Stage by Nailing a Punk Rock Setting
(Warning: The following article contains light spoilers for Green Room.)
True suspense relies upon relatable, empathetic characters placed in believably dangerous scenarios. The thrill of tension comes from immersion into the atmosphere of a setting. When that setting has character, and the protagonists within it evoke genuine empathy, the result is a truly nail-biting experience. Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room achieves this suspense by evoking an impressively accurate depiction of the punk scene, a topic whose previous silver screen portrayals often range from gag-inducing embarrassment to cartoony at best. Saulnier creates a familiar sense of place for any who have been involved in punk, and twists a feeling of nostalgia to create a horrific nightmare.
Green Room follows the story of a four-piece punk band from Washington, D.C. (Arlington, VA technically,) on their tour across the United States. From the jump, Saulnier does an admirable job portraying the slogging of a band on tour, desperate to scrape enough gas money together to make it from gig to gig. Anton Yelchin leads the cast as Pat, the band’s relatively mild-mannered bassist. Yelchin, in what is tragically one of the final roles of his career, sells Pat as the film’s main protagonist and the audience’s surrogate; he’s typically the first to declare that, “this is fucked, man.” Yelchin’s joined by Alia Shawkat’s Sam on guitar, Joe Cole’s Reece on drums, and Callum Turner’s Tiger on vocals. Together they make “The Ain’t Rights,” a motley crew of characters whose traits seem instantly familiar. Between Tiger’s green hair and anarchy stick n’ pokes, Sam’s laid back demeanor, and Reece’s natural tendency to turn to aggression at a moment’s notice, the band fills all the conventional roles of a punk rock ensemble.