Today: February 22, 2024

Green Room

Modern day horror films have fine-tuned everything from blood, gore, pin-point jump-scare accuracy with shocks and skin-crawling nerves. But it is a genre that is never interested in realism. Even when a horror film aims to be set in ‘reality’, like The Blair Witch Project, there is always a sense of cinema present. The situation is heightened, the deaths both telegraphed and glorified.

Green Room aims for something that is part of the horror genre but at the same time both real and original. It’s not interested in making you jump or recoil with horror. Instead it wants to put you in a situation that is, and this is a damning indictment of the darker parts of society, believable.

Punk rock band Ain’t Rights are on the road and looking for gigs. With money tight they have to often improvise for gas money. But when they hear about a gig in a skinhead bar in the backwaters of nowhere they happily take it. Once there they realise it is in fact a white supremacist, Nazi club. With their gig over the band look to leave but witness a murder. Trapped in the titular Green Room. Bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin) assumes the role of leader while the murder victim’s friend Amber (Imogen Poots) knows all too well the trouble they are in. When the owner of the bar Darcy (Patrick Stewart) turns up he has a plan to dispose of the unwanted punks.

With his previous film Blue Ruin write director Jeremy Saulnier took the concept of a revenge thriller and dialled it down. Similarly Green Room takes an idea that has been seen countless times before in horror but puts a subdued edge to it. The effects are quietly tense. You’re never going to be chewing your nails but always wondering where the whole affair is heading.

Saulnier builds everything slowly, giving us an insight into the band dynamic before delicately ripping it apart. By the time Stewart’s terrifyingly calm antagonist shows up hell has not broken loose so much as gently left the door ajar. And from there, and where the tension really lies, it’s anyone’s guess as to who is going to win.

Unlike most horror films deaths are swift and without extravagance. Yes, the violence is often shocking but Saulnier never dwells on it but dispatches and moves on. It’s wonderfully shocking before leaving you reeling at the sheer audacity with which a character is executed without ceremony.

The likes of Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat and Callum Turner all give nice turns as the members of the band. Each character is rounded enough and flawed enough to make you question who will make it all the way to the final curtain, let alone the encour. Macon Blair, the star of Saulnier’s Blue Ruin, gives an understated but always intriguing performance as the bar manager. Stewart is compelling as Darcy, all business but utterly psychotic, his presence is felt throughout and his delivery always unnervingly matter of fact. In one of his final roles though Yelchin demonstrates what a talent he was and how missed he will be. His performance as Pat is immediately recognisable as how most of us would act in a similar situation. At first trying to rationalise it, then breaking down before desperately trying to find the resolve needed to either survive or at least take out as many skinheads as possible. There is a special nuance Yelchin brings to the film that perfectly captures Saulnier’s subdued stylings.

Not a reinvention of the horror thriller but rather a different and very welcome perspective, Green Room is brutally engaging.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email:

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