Review: Green Room by Ony Ratsimbaharison

Green room

"Green Room is the manifestation of my worst fears on tour." -- Ony Ratsimbaharison, who is about to go on tour

An unsuccessful tour takes a turn for the worst in Green Room (2016), a horror film by director Jeremy Saulnier, about members of a punk band forced to fight for their lives against a group of white supremacists in a remote part of Oregon. It’s an overall good film with the right mix of punk, gore, and suspense.

The Ain’t Rights, a band made up of Sam (Alia Shawkat), Pat (Anton Yelchin), Reece (Joe Cole), and Tiger (Callum Turner), are struggling to finish their tour with barely any money. They are offered a last-minute show when a careless booker promises they’ll get paid well. They are, however, warned that they’ll be playing for Neo-Nazis, so they should be cautious and avoid talking politics. After their set, they and another young punk (Imogen Poots) witness a violent crime and are soon fighting to make it out of there alive.

The gory and suspenseful unfolding of events is gut-wrenching, and at times it feels almost too real. And just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, it does. This is not for the faint of heart, but there are instances of dark comedic relief and cinematic beauty. The subject matter is intense, though, there are pretty violent deaths.

The first half is accompanied by the muffled sounds of live heavy metal/grindcore playing in the background, as they discover that the Neo-Nazis are not only trying to cover up for their crime, but they’re setting the band up in the process. As the band struggles to get out, the skinheads become more hostile and violent towards them. Patrick Stewart plays Darcy, the leader of the white supremacist group and owner of the club.

The actors give stunning performances in this film, which came out in April of this year. The original soundtrack, provided by Brooke Blair and Will Blair, is heavy and brash, off-set by the occasional ambient interludes. It also includes a couple songs played by the fictional band featured in the film. The dynamics of the band also seemed more accurate than most depictions of young musicians.

Green Room is the manifestation of my worst fears on tour. Going 90 miles out of your route to play a virtually non-existent show and making close to nothing from it is a nightmare of its own. To then get sent to a play for a bunch of skinheads adds to the horror. The band is soon forced to use guns and anything else they can find to fight the Nazis.

The film has a good mix of suspense and horror, not too heavy on the gore but it is pretty bloody. The fact that this could legitimately happen of course adds to the scariness. I would recommend this movie to anyone about to go on tour (if you dare), or anyone who likes horror or has ever dreamed of covering the Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” to a room full of skinheads.


Jasper intern and blogger Ony Ratsimbaharison sets out this week on her own performance tour with her band FKMT.