Jeremy Saulnier gets punk rock. As a preteen skateboarder growing up in suburban Virginia, he was drawn to the physical immediacy, boundless creativity, and sweaty personal expression of hardcore. In high school, he drove across the Memorial Bridge to see shows in Washington, DC. He played in bands with friends. Decades later, when casting Green Room, the writer and director's bracing new punk thriller, he knew authenticity was more important than Hollywood glamour.
"It's my job to ignore some of that and not get too excited about star power or people's perceived value," says Saulnier. "You're left with who these actors are and what they can bring to the table. I cast people who were energetic and enthusiastic and very talented, so I was in a very safe place when I was trapped in that room."
Luckily, the audience isn't as safe. Green Room opens with quietly observed moments of young punk band The Ain't Rights on tour -- siphoning gas for their van, conducting earnest zine interviews, crashing on couches -- but quickly turns into a bloodbath when the group's bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin) accidentally witnesses the aftermath of a violent confrontation in the green room of a Portland skinhead bar. Words are exchanged. Box cutters and machetes are drawn. Pit bulls circle the club.