Jeremy Saulnier’s punk rock slasher Green Room takes the horror genre to a new level

By Chris Edwards, reviewing from Vue Westfield London

There are a number of ways in which Jeremy Saulnier’s punk rock slasher can shock: wince-inducing gore often comes out of nowhere, character deaths are wholly unpredictable and Captain Jean-Luc Picard plays a neo-Nazi gang leader. But what’s most surprising about Green Room is its determination to take the horror genre to a new level. It’s immaculately paced and the violence legitimately lends to the drama, as opposed to quenching a perverse thirst. Horror has never been so refreshing.

Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Joe Cole) and Tiger (Callum Turner) are the members of out-of-luck punk band The Ain’t Rights. When their upcoming concert is cancelled at the last minute, an interviewer with an ominous haircut hooks them up with his brother, the promoter of an underground, white supremacist venue.

Green Room
If it was a bad idea to accept the offer, kicking off the gig with an anti-Nazi song was a worse one. However, they miraculously manage to win over the audience with the rest of their set. Everything appears to be going smoothly until they return to their green room and discover a body with a switchblade poking out of its head.

Forced to barricade themselves in the room – a brilliant Imogen Poots is stuck with them – the band fend off attacks from waves of skinheads led by Patrick Stewart. What follows is a gory survival nightmare, where the violence might evoke thoughts of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but isn’t pivotal to the story or building suspense. The real horror comes from negotiator-like conversations had through closed doors and not knowing how the thugs will strike next.
Green Room
It might seem like a strange thing to say about a film that features a man having his stomach unzipped by a box cutter, but Green Room is far too tasteful to be likened to Saw or Hostel. It takes the genre seriously, affording realistic violence and dialogue, as well as finding time to be genuinely funny. Amidst the shrieking and flinching, Saulnier mocks his characters by inferring that, when faced with death, a punk rocker will admit to liking Madonna.

You’ll love this film if you like being part of a wincing and screaming audience.

See this film with someone who can handle violence, but also appreciates the subtler parts of filmmaking.

Meet with friends before the film at Wagamama, Westfield London. It’s in the same building as Vue, so you barely have to move.

After the film, nip down to The Bull for a great selection of beers in a rustic environment.

For a local punk rock experience, look out for the latest gigs at Shepherd’s Bush Empire.