The 400-Word Review: Green Room
By Sean Collier
May 3, 2016
A look at the top-grossing horror films of 2015 reveals that a reliance on the unearthly has overtaken the genre. Every film in the Top 10 includes a supernatural element; the top five all involve ghosts. 2014’s list isn’t too different: Spirits, poltergeists, demons, Satan himself — these are the villains of modern horror.
Green Room, then, travels decades into the past — beyond the possession-and-haunting boom, past the Asian influence of the 2000s and even the slasher revival of the ’90s. Its closest brethren are human-driven terrors such as Last House on the Left, where the terror is created by very bad people doing very bad things, no incorporeal evil needed.
A deep-underground punk band (Anton Yelchin, Joe Cole, Alia Shawkat and Callum Turner) is a long way from home with no money and no good ideas after a potential gig turns into a bust. They’re given the opportunity for a decent payday at an afternoon show in the middle of nowhere, but there’s a catch: The crowd will consist mostly of neo-Nazis and skinheads. But hey, a gig is a gig, right? And despite some bad attitudes in the mosh pit, things go okay — until the group makes a horrific discovery backstage, and those in charge of the venue inform the punks that they will not be leaving.
From that point on, Green Room is coated in an unbroken layer of tension, as every decision could be fatal; our heroes have no power, no resources and minimal leverage. They’re also up against Darcy (Patrick Stewart), the sinister and hateful leader of the white supremacists. It’s a shocking turn for Stewart, and he is remarkably good at it; there are plenty of horror flicks with a charming villain, but when that villain is as menacing as Darcy, such portrayals go from unsettling to downright chilling.
Green Room is certainly not for the faint of heart, as the visceral and graphic violence will turn all but the most hardy stomachs; there will be those who find the experience simply too unpleasant to endure. But horror aficionados will be pleased. If the genre’s primary role is illustrating society’s fears, Green Room taps into a truth that horror has been neglecting: One need not believe in ghosts to be scared. There are terrifying things living on the fringes of society — and many of them are much worse than a haunted house.
My Rating: 8/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark