Published Apr 13, 2016Punk movies are almost always fun, but they're nearly impossible to get right. Whether it's the sneering, randomly spitting buffoons from flicks like Class of 1984 or the god-awful overacting on display in abominable biopics like CBGB (2013) or What We Do Is Secret (2007), punks on film never seem to truly represent punks in real life.
Perhaps it's because he spent his youth in an actual hardcore band, but director Jeremy Saulnier has perfectly captured the adolescent punk rock experience in his new film, Green Room. Before we get into the film's plot, it's worth discussing the accuracy and attention to detail on display with its main characters' band, the Ain't Rights.
From their eye-rolling name to their unfocused sound — it touches on D-beat despite the band members' professed love of Fugazi and Fear — to their poorly managed tour (which includes playing to an empty restaurant and constantly syphoning gas) to their soul-crushing interviews with shitty zines, the Ain't Rights are a perfectly accurate punk band. You've seen this band in your town and, better yet, you've probably been in this band at one point in your life.
The Ain't Rights are made up of four tight-knit friends — Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Joe Cole) and Tiger (Callum Turner). After a particularly shitty show, a failing college radio DJ with a mohawk offers them a high-paying gig at a skinhead compound. Rather than take the moral high ground, the Ain't Rights opt to play the show for their massive $300 payday.
Though they taunt the audience full of sharply dressed racists with a cover of the Dead Kennedys' "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" (the band's influences are all over the place in a strangely realistic way), the show goes fairly well. They collect their money from the door guy, and just as they're about to leave, Sam realizes she forgot her phone in the green room.
Pat goes to retrieve it for her, and he discovers that a lethal stabbing took place while they were playing. To make sure they don't speak out about it, the neo-Nazi show promoters lock them in the room and call their leader Darcy (a spine-tingling Patrick Stewart) to help come up with a plan.
From there, things get absurdly bloody, as Green Room quickly turns into a gruesome thriller complete with visceral stabbings and a vicious pack of dogs hell bent on throat-bites. It's remarkably gory, adding some serious grit to the age-old battle of punks versus skins.
While there are a handful of familiar beats for fans of movies that see characters ruthlessly picked off one at a time, Green Room succeeds with perfect pacing, a profoundly unique setting and an all-too realistic portrayal of life in a shitty punk band. After all, while most touring bands certainly haven't been involved in a gruesome battle on a secret neo-Nazi compound, nearly all of them can relate to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This a must-see for general thrill-seekers and band veterans alike.