Green Room

An intelligent and electrifying horror

Usually me and horror don’t mix particularly well. Almost two months on and I am still occasionally haunted by visions of Black Phillip the goat from The Witch and I still feel a bit twitchy when I think about what I would do if I were to be trapped in a basement 10 Cloverfield Lane – style (is it normal to worry about that as a hypothetical scenario..?) But then again, Green Room isn’t your typical horror film. Yes there is gore (I’ve become very aware of my hands for the past hour since watching) but it is never overused. Whilst the narrative follows a ‘well-that-escalated-quickly’ structure it is founded in a series of cause-and-effect plot points that seem both believable and terrifying in equal measure. Then when you chuck in the superb pacing, swift editing, nerve-shredding soundtrack and  some superb character performances…well you’re in for a great time!

“The Ain’t Rights” are a punk band who are travelling through the Pacific Northwest, playing gigs and scrummaging whatever they can to get by.  The band – formed of Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Joe Cole) and Tiger (Callum Turner) – end up playing a gig in rural Seaside, Oregon to a club filled with Neo-Nazi skinheads.Upon seeing their Anti-Semitic surroundings Pat jokingly suggests they play a cover of The Dead Kennedys “Nazi Punks Fuck Off!” The band play the song during their set to  a less than receptive audience. Set over and cash in hand they make a move to leave, a move which the show organiser hastens to speed up, when Pat has to run back to grab the band’s mobile which they left charging. He stumbles across the scene of one of the skinheads leaning over the body of a young female punk with her still-alive friend Amber (Imogen Poots) rendered numb in disbelief. The band are then locked in the green room with the pair and the dead body. Reinforcements are called in the form of club owner Darcy (Patrick Stewart). The band have seen too much. Will any of them make it out alive?

There are so many reasons to like this movie. I want to say enjoy but considering the subject matter and content the verb ‘enjoy’ seems in rather poor taste. Semantics aside this is a cracking horror film. The slow-build of tension, the overwhelming sense of inevitability and the shock factor of many of moments. This is a film made with an equal blend of style and substance. The film looks damn good – the shots are well chosen with some excellent lighting choices that make for truly memorable sequences.

All of these factors would be pointless were it not for the excellent performances that drive the story. The characters are presented in a way that is a balance between wanting them to live but not really knowing them well enough to mourn any losses that occur on the way. You experience a degree of ‘oh no!’ because you care about them when certain things may or may not happen but are detached enough from them to not feel too aggrieved should/when something happens to them. Yelchin is superb as the accidental leader of punk trope. Poots is truly kick-ass as a female character who is not just cast to the sidelines, doesn’t spend the entirety of the film in shades of hysteria and who is capable of holding her own in certain situations. This is definitely/hopefully  showing a changing of the tide in Hollywood horror as her character is in line with that of Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the aforementioned 10 Cloverfield Lane. And then there’s Patrick Stewart as a properly scary baddie – whose calm and collected demeanor is unbearably (in a good way) unnerving to watch.   

Tense and taut (clocking in at 94 minutes) with some powerfully acted performances along with an admirably well-written script that is black humour laden this is definitely worth a watch.

4 stars

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