Green Room has the same vicious, simplistic edge to it that director Jeremy Saulnier’s 2011 thriller Blue Ruin had, but sharpened and honed to near perfection this time around. This is one grim thriller, a claustrophobic little odyssey of desperate violence that’s thick with a sick, overwhelming atmosphere that isn’t for the faint of anything. A big part of what makes it work so well is the fact that it makes sense, in terms of scene to scene actions and character motivations. These aren’t cardboard horror protagonists darting through a predetermined rat maze of a narrative, these are real humans in a deadly situation who act accordingly, with both purpouse and realism. Atmosphere was a huge part of Blue Ruin, and now again Saulnier weaves a tense auditory cloak that puts the characters in the hot seat of danger and the audience in conniptions of suspense. It’s a situation straight out of a seething nightmare: a down and out punk band led by Anton Yelchin are on a dead end tour, severely strapped for cash and getting desperate. When a vague buddy hooks them up with a rural gig, they jump at the chance, until they find out they’re playing for a clubhouse full of angry neo nazi skinheads in a backwoods bar. Everything is going marginally well (as well as coexisting with nazis for a set could go, I suppose) until a member of their group accidentally witnesses one of these freaks brutally slaughter a girl, suddenly branding them all as witnesses. With nowhere to go, the band barricades themselves into the green room and descends into a collective panic as the reality of their situation sets in. Outside, an armada of furious Aryan psychopaths prepares to siege the bar and kill them, led by the clubhouse owner, Darcy (a wicked, malevolent Patrick Stewart, loving every second of a rare villain role). The film clocks in at a scalpel sliced 90 minutes, with not a second wasted on anything that doesn’t propel the story forward with the momentum of a machete ripping through bone. These dudes are out to get them at any cost, and the band in turn are whipped into an adrenaline overdrive of base survival instinct, using anything they can to dispatch their tormentors and escape. Yelchin does an excellent job of making their plight feel uncannily real, the terror emanating from every pore until there’s none left, and empty, deadly resolve sets in. Imogen Poots is great as one of the clubhouse girls, a no nonsense spitfire with revenge on the brain and the will to make it happen. Stewart chomps at the bit with an eerie calm and articulate, insidious presence, a genius casting decision and a joy to see in menacing action. I’m curious to see how much farther Saulnier can push the envelope with his next film, which I’ve heard will be the last entry in this episodic trilogy. This one shows us what a real thriller is, one that pumps your pulse to a boiling point and makes you glad there are filmmakers out there with the balls and creative know-how to make something like this happen. Just bring a thick skin, there’s a ton of graphic and very realistic looking violence. Unbelievably terrific stuff.