By: Matt Conway –
Being a horror fan must be one of the worst fans to be. It’s like the equivalent of being a Buffalo Bills fan that for some reason also likes the Chicago Cubs. The genre has obviously produced its fair share of classics, but it also has frankly turned into a shit storm of horrendous movies. All patrons who had to sit through The Forest or The Boy are probably still protesting their theaters for a refund (sorry guys, I crossed the picket line).
Perhaps the only oasis for the genre is within independent film, where smart and crafty filmmakers are utilizing low budgets to create something wholly unique and great. The latest to continue this trend is Green Room, a midnight movie that is honestly one of the best horror films in recent memory.
Green Room follows an indie punk rock band that plays a gig. Once they witness a horrible act, however, they are locked up and must escape a group of maniacal skinheads.
Unlike most horror films, Green Room is one of the rare ones to actually start-off with some solid exposition. Audiences get to spend a little time with the grungy band, who, despite their lack of wealth, continue to keep on chugging along. There is a great lived-in relationship between the band members, with there being an instant camaraderie between the members.
The characters are actually likable people. While this seems like a relatively simple step, so many horror films just feature the blandest of protagonists that are impossible to care about. It also helps when you’re gifted with a solid cast, with Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, and Callum Turner all delivering good performances. It’s so refreshing to see a horror movie actually cast good actors in major roles.
Directing and writing the film is Jeremy Saulnier, who showed a great deal of skill in his directorial debut Blue Ruin. Saulnier is quickly becoming one to watch in the industry, as he really gives an avant garde spin on the genre picture. That’s not to say that his films are pretentious, rather they are just extremely well-executed variations of a tried and true genre.
Saulnier clearly shows an expertise in the genre, knowing its faulty trappings all too well. As a writer, he is able to impressively avoid a lot of the horrible cliches that have plagued the genre for years. All of the characters here actually act how people would act, not making beyond dumb decisions, while still also being driven by their own fear. The plot unravels seamlessly, nicely spiced with some unexpected twists that will shock audiences throughout.
In the director’s chair, Saulnier really is able to unnerve audiences throughout. Tension is always kept at an all time high, with slight reminders of the villainy our protagonists face adding much needed doses of fear. Characters really do feel like they could come and go at any minute, and that feeling had me on the edge of my seat throughout. Saulnier also proves himself to be a very visual director, with each shot being perfectly framed and packing a real punch.
Adding to that sense of fear is the portrayal of the villainous skinheads, who are thankfully less cartoonish characters, but instead just hateful people. With skilled veteran actors like Macon Blair, Michael Draper, and even Patrick Stewart lending their talents, these character are able to come to life. Watching their complicated operations as they try to contain the situation is quite fascinating to watch, with their calm zeal hiding their desire to kill and destroy.
Green Room, similar to other great modern horror films, leaves its audience with ideas to ponder. Much of the film touches on how the protagonists have to descend into darkness in order to survive, and whether or not one can ultimately ever come back from that. Events clearly have an effect on the characters throughout, with the ending being equal parts satisfying and thoughtful.
Green Room is the kind of demented movie that horror fans have been dreaming to see. It’s a supremely well-executed midnight flick, that equally thrills and unnerves its audience. Jeremy Saulnier continues to make genre films with intelligence and skill, making him one to watch going forward.
Green Room (2016) Drinking Game
Do a Shot: for each shocking twist
Take a Drink: when the scary as fuck dogs show up
Take a Drink: for each gory moment
Take a Drink: whenever shit starts to hit the fan