31 Days of Halloween — Day 16: Green Room (2016) — by Dr. Shock

hmp-greenroomEditor’s note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast and the Land of the Creeps horror podcast. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.

From its brutality violent tale of survival to the unnerving performance delivered by Patrick Stewart, director Jeremy Saulnier’s 2016 movie Green Room has quite a bit going for it. Yet what impressed me the most was the almost organic way its story unfolded, revealing, in a very disturbing manner, just how suddenly and unexpectedly a life-or-death situation can creep up on you.

The Ain’t Rights, a punk rock band featuring the collective talents of bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin), guitarist Sam (Alia Shawkat), drummer Reece (Joe Cole) and lead singer Tiger (Callum Turner), is on tour, and having a miserable time. When a gig arranged by college radio host Tad (David W. Thompson) fizzles out, the band decides to end the tour and go home. However, Tad manages to talk them into playing one final venue: a Neo-Nazi Skinhead bar located in Portland, Oregon. In desperate need of cash, the band agrees, and after being greeted by Tad’s cousin Daniel (Mark Webber), who works at the bar, the Ain’t Rights hit the stage, and despite a rocky start, they soon win the crowd over.

The trouble begins moments after the band leaves the stage, when Pat goes back to the green room (where the musicians relax before their performances) to retrieve Sam’s cell phone. What he finds, instead, is a murdered girl (Taylor Tunes) lying on the floor, and the victim’s friend Amber (Imogen Poots) asking him to call the police. Because he’s seen too much, Gabe (Macon Blair) ushers Pat and the other members of the band back into the Green Room and has the club’s bouncer, Big Justin (Eric Edelstein), hold them there at gunpoint.

A few minutes later, the head honcho of the skinheads (and the club’s owner), Darcy Banker (Stewart), shows up, and decides it would be best to silence the Ain’t Rights permanently. This leads to a stand-off between the band (who refuse to unlock the green room door until the police arrive) and Darcy’s skinheads (who have already ensured that the law won’t be getting involved), and before it’s over, a number of people will be dead.

Patrick Stewart delivers a stellar performance as the leader whose direct, almost clinical approach to murder will send a chill up your spine. He is, at all times, cold and calculated, and when he’s talking with Pat through a closed door, trying to convince him and his friends to end this impasse, we can’t shake the feeling he’s done this sort of thing before. In addition, the film boasts quite a bit of violence, some of which will shock you because the carnage is so sudden; one particular scene, which occurred soon after Darcy took over the negotiations, featured two brutally violent moments, and a few later sequences involving trained attack dogs will have you squirming in your seat.

What truly shook me, though, was how arbitrary the whole situation seemed, and how quickly the standoff between the band and Darcy’s skinheads escalated. The “wrong place at the wrong time” scenario has played out in hundreds of movies over the years (Hitchcock was a master at it), but never have I experienced a film like Green Room, where we have absolutely no advanced warning of what’s to come. All at once, four people who simply wanted to play a little music are in a fight for their lives, and nothing they say or do is going to change that.

Many things occur over the course of Green Room that will pull you deeper into its story, but it’s the staggering unpredictability of it all that I won’t soon forget.

— Dr. Shock

Don’t miss Wolfman Josh’s original podcast review of Green Room on Horror Movie Podcast Episode 81 and Jay of the Dead’s spoiler-filled podcast review on Horror Movie Podcast Episode 88.

Links for Dr. Shock:
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Follow Dave on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation
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Dr. Shock also appears on this horror podcast: Land of the Creeps

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8 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 16: Green Room (2016) — by Dr. Shock

  1. I literally just watched this again last night. It was my third viewing and the gut-punch of the almost casually realistic violence is still as effective. Even though I’d seen it twice before I still felt taken by surprise by how quickly some of the characters drop and how disturbing that is in that with such odds stacked against them it’s very plausible. There’s barely a shred of theatrical veneer or contrivance here. It truly makes you feel as though you’re seeing the situation play out the way it would in reality which makes it all the more horrifying. I also noticed how eerie the setting is rendered by the lighting and cinematography on this viewing. It’s pretty incredible that such horror and atmosphere could be conjured from a rock music venue; the whistling siren of feedback and the grotesque starkness of the grotty, industrial decor. I wasn’t totally calling this a horror film originally but now I feel that it absolutely is, just refracted through a prism of culture unfamiliar to the standard conventions of the genre. The gothicism of a haunted house or abandoned asylum simply swapped out for the grotty isolation of a skinhead bar, the singular indefatigable killer in a mask interchanged for the equally ominous and inexorable threat of an organisation built around violence and hate.

  2. Cool review Dr. Shock! I agree. This was super shocking. It was the first film I saw at Sundance earlier this year and it really kicks you in the balls right from the get go. It’s a 10 for me.


    Day 16 – Halloween (1978)

    With this being the final movie I will watch and review as a person in my 20’s, I wanted to choose something that played a significant role in my life. I can honestly say that without John Carpenter’s Halloween, I would not be typing this review at this moment nor would I likely even be such a fan of movies. I look back at my life and it’s this film, one scene in particular that forever changed movies from just being something I would sometimes watch for some mindless entertainment into one of my biggest hobbies. While I can’t remember the exact year, I believe it was either 1999 or 2000. I was flipping through the channels and I landed on Halloween being shown on the USA Network. As it turns out, I had stumbled onto the movie just about the time of the legendary closet scene. While I was hardly a stranger to the horror genre, that goes back to the early 90’s, this scene made everything click for me. This scene of a teenage girl fearing for her life and trying to find anything, anything at all, to try and prevent this masked killer from getting his hands on her was one of the scariest moments I can remember watching in a movie. I had to flip the channel to anything else. And yet…curiosity got the best of me and I just had to keep flipping back to the USA Network to see if this poor girl could somehow survive her attacker.

    With that, a horror fan was born. Immediately afterwards, everything began changing. I needed to get more of this new drug of choice and I needed it bad. I would buy blank VHS tapes and scour my TV guide found in my weekly Sunday newspaper to figure out when every horror film would be airing so I could record it. Weekends would be filled going to the video rental store and bringing home a few movies at a time, trying to figure out which were the biggest and most important horror films to buy. When I came into some money, it went straight into either buying some official horror VHS tapes or adding to my Fangoria magazine collection. It was even during this time that I first ventured online and joined my first message board (Naturally, the now defunct Halloween movies board). It was through that board that I managed to get my hands on the novelization of the original Halloween and the former holy grail of any Halloween fan collection – the Halloween 6 Producer’s Cut (Obviously, in awful condition).

    Looking back, I have wondered what it was about Halloween that caused this great effect on me. In comparison to the other slashers that would follow it, it’s a rather tame film. Despite this, Halloween remains one of the most effective horror films ever made. Part of this is the music. John Carpenter did such a fantastic job at creating a simple, yet eerie soundtrack that is both memorable and highly effective. With everything going back to that closet scene, I have to assume the music playing at that point played a huge role in adding to the tension and the urgency of it all. The funny thing is that it’s this heavy reliance on the music that creates two of the scarier moments when there isn’t any music at all. Those two scenes would be the light slowly showing Michael’s mask from behind his intended closet victim and later when Michael sits up in the background after originally thought to have been killed. For the rest of the scares, it comes from the fear of the unknown. You have this mysterious man killing his sister as a child, escaping now as a man, and going after a high school girl without any idea of why he does any of it. To make matters worse, he feels the need to wear a mask that is devoid of any emotion.

    Despite the tameness of the film, the kills are pretty top notch in terms of being memorable. While sure, the kill doesn’t make a lot of sense logically since how is a large knife supposed to hold up a male body, but the death of Bob created the fantastic moment of Michael tilting his head back and forth, as if more curious than anything else about what he had just done to Bob. Of course, the death of Judith was memorable due to the surprise reveal of her killer being a young child. The death of Lynda showed off Michael’s playful side with the sheet over his head and wearing Bob’s glasses. Part of the value of Lynda’s death is the big question of “Why play the games?” The best I can come up with is that because Michael is a stalker, he’s not going to reveal his true self so far away from Lynda. He’s not interested in chasing after her. That plays right into Annie’s death as it’s done in the tight confines of a car, initially started with a bit of a fourth wall breaking moment as Annie looked at the camera, unsure of why the car was foggy from the inside. Looking back, is it any surprise that Laurie was the one that was able to survive? More than once, she kept finding ways of getting away from Michael, causing him to have to chase her. Furthermore, it’s Laurie’s ability to force Michael to chase her that was only made possible because she was the one character that was paying attention and noticed Michael around.

    Seeing as I have watched this movie many times before, I was more focus on random questions and thoughts I had while watching it rather than focusing on the major events. For one, what did Dr. Loomis see in Michael Myers that made him so sure that if Myers ever saw freedom, terrible things would happen? Without any notable events between 1963 and 1978, Myers’ entire history of doing terrible deeds can be summed up with one line – killed his sister as a child. Since then, Myers has never even spoken a word. What is it that Loomis saw in Myers that terrified him so much? This question fascinates me. Poor Loomis though, the one guy on the planet that sees Michael for the evil entity that he is and he’s ultimately the one everyone will blame if Myers lives up to his expectations as well. With Michael following Tommy Doyle a good deal prior to night time, this time around, I had to wonder if Myers latched onto Doyle as well as Laurie? What if Myers was only hanging around the Wallace and Doyle house not because Laurie was there, but because Tommy was there as well? Does he potentially see a bit of his childhood self in Tommy? My assumption of the first film is that nearly everything that happens can be tied back to Michael’s childhood death of his sister, Judith. What if the reason why he’s fixated on Tommy and Laurie is because they remind him of his sister and himself? Furthermore, what sort of freaky sex games were Annie, Paul, Lynda, and Bob hoping to have that night? It always seemed odd to me when Lynda tells Michael dressed as a ghost that “This is going nowhere!” If the only intention that night was to have a place to hook up with your boyfriend, whether Annie was there or not, you succeeded. The only logical answer is that with it being the 70’s, they were planning on doing some swinging or whatever. Ahh, one of the fun things that you begin to believe solely because you’ve seen a movie so many times that you add in your own explanations.

    I suppose if there’s a flaw in Halloween, it’s all of the errors. Granted, perhaps these errors only seem so plentiful because I’ve seen the movie so many times. This time around, the errors that stood out to me included the direction of Annie’s body when being carried by Michael changing when Tommy notices, a wrench being visibly shown against the palm of Michael during his early escape as he breaks the car window, the far too quick session between Judith and her boyfriend at the start of the film, and the distance from the Doyle house to the Wallace house changing from first mentioned by Laurie early on compared to when we actually see where the houses are located. In the past, there’s been other memorable errors like palm trees being seen in the background despite taking place in Illinois, the time changing in the opening scene as young Michael walks through the house, smoke being seen on the side of the bushes, and the Doyle door knob changing sides from the outside to the inside. Halloween is likely the film I’m most aware of its errors, although I’m not sure if it’s because such a small budget film that they weren’t able to be extra careful or that I’m only aware of the errors due to my frequency of watching the film.

    Overall, John Carpenter’s Halloween is a classic. As I expressed in the first couple of paragraphs, it played the single most significant role in my life as far as films go. Regardless of how many times you watch it, you can notice new things (Such as errors) or believe to form your own theories (The babysitter swingers~!) It may be a tame film, but it remains a highly effective film due to it’s brilliant score, willingness to have Michael be seen stalking more than anything else, creepy moments, and deaths that stand out. Somehow, after all of these years, this was only my first time seeing the film on a widescreen HDTV. It’s a nice treat after so many years of having to watch a 4:3 version or the widescreen video on a CRT television. While I would assume everyone has seen Halloween at least once, I encourage everyone to give it a re-watch at some point in the month. Regardless of how many times you’ve seen this slasher classic, you can always pick up on new things. Carpenter’s Halloween was more than a fitting way to close out my 20’s.

    Rating: 10/10

  4. Day 16 – Clue

    Not a lot for me to say about Clue. It was really fun. Easily the best board game adaption I’ve ever seen. Tim Curry steals the show, but Madeline Kahn has some truly stellar scenes. Fun to watch all the alternate endings it had to offer. Looking forward to a rematch while playing the game. 7.5/10

  5. Day 16: The Wailing (2016)

    Rating: 10/10 (must see!/buy it)

    — — — — — Contains spoilers — — — — —

    What I liked:
    – The film weaves such a beautifully intricate and disturbingly dark mystery that will stick with you.
    – The performances are all excellent but the standout is the child actor who portrays Hyo-Jin, who immediately joins the pantheon of most disturbing performances by child actors in a horror movie.
    – The naturally occurring humor that is sprinkled throughout the film helps to balance the dark, ominous themes.
    – The film unfolds in progressive manner, with the stakes elevating to an extreme level.
    – The mystery keeps you guessing, and doesn’t fully unravel until the very end; in fact, just when you think you’ve figured it out, a blanket of confusion covers you up again until the final revelation.

    What I didn’t like:
    – There is a seance/ritual about mid-way through that probably could have been edited down a little neater to help shave off a little from the total runtime.

  6. Day 16: The Fog (1980)
    Rating: 9.5/10

    The campfire story at the beginning of this film sets everything up so well. A town with a bad nautical past is haunted by returning ghosts. I love the small costal town setting and a radio DJ in the lighthouse. The ghosts look creepy but it’s even more creepy to hear them knocking at the door. When you think this film can’t get any better, Tom Atkins appears and has sex with Jamie Lee Curtis! I watched the remake with my wife once and it was laughable. She watched this one with me and was pretty freaked out. Any cold night during the year is a good night to watch The Fog.

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