The Ain’t Rights are a punk quartet from Arlington, Va., who’ve been doggedly touring the country, playing a series of venues so obscure, to call them dives would be a compliment. As their funds get ever lower and they’ve had to resort to siphoning gas illegally to stay on the rood, the mood in their Scooby van has turned decidedly tetchy. Friction flares especially between idealistic bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin) and truculent drummer Reece (Joe Cole), leaving guitarist Sam (Alia Shawkat) and lead singer Tiger (Callum Turner) to play mom and dad to keep the peace.
They’re on the verge of calling it quits and heading home, when Tad, a journalist-booker (David W. Thompson), pulls in a favor from his cousin Daniel (Mark Webber) to get the Ain’t Rights a support slot for a matinee show at a roadhouse in deep-woods Oregon. It turns out the venue is packed with shaven-headed, swastika-inked white supremacists, who spit and throw bottles when the band play their first number, a spirited cover of the Dead Kennedys’ classic “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” Luckily, in a twist that shows wit and a canny grasp of the porous boundaries between subcultures, the crowd like the rest of the band’s set and they escape the stage unscathed.
Unfortunately, the afternoon takes a turn for the worse when one of the Ain’t Rights returns to the green room to fetch a cell phone and accidentally stumbles on a murder scene. One of the skinhead girls they’d noticed earlier has been stabbed in the head and lies dead on the floor, and things don’t look good for her frightened friend Amber (Brit Imogen Poots, doing a pretty good job with the American accent, and implausibly an even better one at making the distinctive skin-style Chelsea fringe haircut look almost attractive). Freaked out and justifiably afraid they won’t make it out alive – despite cobra-smooth assurances of safety from first manager Gabe (Saulnier-regular Macon Blair, star of Blue Ruin) and then the venue’s owner Darcy (Stewart) – the punks barricade themselves inside the green room with Amber and a skin heavy (Eric Edelstein) whom they manage to subdue.
From here on out, the film settles into a straight-up seize drama meets stalk-and-slash gore-fest mashup as one by one the punks are picked off as they try to escape, though they take a few skins down with them in the process. Characters are felled by machetes, have their throats ripped out by dogs and slashed by knives, while a few stragglers meet their maker from good old fashioned gun shots. As action, it’s niftily executed, the suspense neatly built, and the shocks expectedly surprising. As a bonus, Saulnier and his crew establish the layout of the building clearly so it makes sense where characters are in relation to each other, and where the blind spots are.
However, proficient as it is, there’s not much here that genre fans won’t have seen a hundred times, apart from the fact that instead of having dumb teenagers getting sliced and diced by hillbillies or supernatural serial killers, here it’s slightly cooler punk rockers up against thugs in Doc Martens. (Sidenote: British viewers passingly familiar with the sartorial codes may be confused that here the worst skins are the ones with red laces in their boots, whereas in the UK this is usually a sign that the wearer is a member of that oxymoronic-sounding tribe, left-wing skinheads.)
Green Room is an American crime horror thriller film written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier. The film stars Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart, Alia Shawkat, and Callum Turner. Filming began in October 2014 in Portland, Oregon. It was screened in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The film is scheduled to be released in a limited release on April 1, 2016, before opening in wide on April 15, 2016, by A24 Films.
Green Room (2017)
Directed by: Jeremy Saulnier
Starring: Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner, Mark Webber, Anton Yelchin, Macon Blair, Taylor Tunes, Joe Cole, Samuel Summer, Audrey Walker
Screenplay by: Jeremy Saulnier
Production Design by: Ryan Warren Smith
Cinematography by: Sean Porter
Film Editing by: Julia Bloch
Costume Design by: Amanda Needham
Set Decoration by: Jenelle Giordano
Art Direction by: Benjamin Hayden
Music by: Brooke Blair, Will Blair
MPAA Rating: R for strong brutal graphic violence, gory images, language and some drug content.
Studio: A24 Films
Release Date: April 15, 2016