Punx versus skins! Classic, right? The wayward punk band at the heart of this story calls themselves The Ain’t Rights, and they’re a long way from their East Coast home and stuck on tour out in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. The quartet is trying to get from one town to the next and have to resort to siphoning gas and who-knows-what-else in order to make it to the next show. The filmmakers do a fairly authentic job capturing what it’s like for a struggling band to be out on tour and playing shows in punk rock dives, and for that I would recommend this movie to anyone who has been around the underground scene in any capacity. As we all know, the punk community is both charming and sketchy, and Green Room demonstrates that in 95 brutal minutes.
I’m not wild about the horror genre, but I would categorize Green Room as a Thriller/Slasher/Gore flick. More akin to suspenseful horror movies like The Innkeepers or Cabin In The Woods. In short, this film is about when the young punk band gets a last-minute booking to play a show and they end up at an eery Right Wing compound in the woods. Ruh roh.
Something about The Ain’t Rights reminds me of a band called The Observers who burned bright and burned out about 12-15 years ago. Like our protagonists in the movie, The Observers were a screamy and scruffy punk band that belonged in 1983 with their raw melodies. The Ain’t Rights really nail that when they antagonize the crowd of fascist skinheads with a cover of Dead Kennedys, “Nazi Punk Fuck Off”. As you can imagine, the audience of would-be Trump voters didn’t take too kindly to these bold out-of-towners and their anti-fascist message. One thing leads to another and the band is trapped in their green room where a standoff results. Just an FYI for ya, a “green room” is another term for dressing room. A place backstage where a band can change clothes, leave their stuff, drink beer, etc. And this green room is like so many others around the world: spray paint, stickers, dilapidated furniture, and probably smells gross. It only adds to the tension as a pack of bloodthirsty Right Wingers beat down their door.
Things escalate further when Patrick Stewart finally makes his entrance as Darcy—savvy leader of these skinhead radicals. For those keeping score at home, he’s actually the second actor in this bloodbath that is related to the Star Trek franchise. But Jean-Luc he ain’t! Darcy is a cruel and cool-headed British gent who is a cross between Tom Metzger and “The Wolf” from Pulp Fiction. Without giving away all the fun, things take off and develop in manic fashion. The turn of events was unexpected and this was definitely one of the most intense things I’ve ever seen on the big screen. Some wild shit, for sure.
I can see this movie attaining cult status, but I doubt I would personally want to watch it over and over. It’s too graphic for me and I don’t care for how they used dogs in the film. That said, if your soul is ready for an ass-kickin’, I recommend seeing this picture in the theater because it feels like you’re trapped IN the green room along with the rest of these poor kids. Nightmare fuel, as they say.
It’s worth mentioning that the skinhead culture is in no way synonymous with Right Wing beliefs. Most punk historians will tell you that the movement/sub-genre began as a response to racism and is rooted in the concept of unity and the fusion of Jamaican music. The film actually includes scenes of “red laces and red braces” (something known to occasionally indicate violent and/or racist views among skins), but even that is an unfounded stereotype. There’s a lot of great people and music that comes from the skinhead culture and you shouldn’t judge people by their clothes or haircut. Duh.