Netflix Review – Green Room: One of the Best Modern Horror Films (Spoiler-Free)

Due to not being able to run a 90210 DVD on my computer (someone requested I review an episode before Luke Perry died), I have decided to give you all a special treat and review one of the best films of the last 10 years, Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room. I’m choosing to make it spoiler-free because I really want to encourage people to see this film.


Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Joe Cole) and Tiger (Callum Turner) are members of  the punk band the “Ain’t Rights.” While traveling through Oregon, they have one of their gigs cancelled and, to make up for it, local DJ Tad (David W. Thompson) tells them that he can get a performance through his cousin, Daniel (Mark Webber), at a bar outside of Portland. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes apparent that the bar is actually a Neo-Nazi skinhead bar. The group, half of whom are Jewish, having pure metal in their hearts, decide to play anyway, even opening with an amazing cover of The Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks F*ck Off!!!” They end up impressing the crowd and getting paid for the show.  

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They truly do rock the hate-filled house.

On the way out, Sam leaves her phone in the green room. Pat goes back to find it and sees the body of a dead girl (Taylor Tunes), having been stabbed to death by a Neo-Nazi. Pat calls the cops, but two Neo-Nazis, Gabe and Big Justin (Macon Blair and Eric Edelstein), take the phone and hold the Ain’t Rights hostage in the Green Room along with the dead girl’s friend, Amber (Imogen Poots). What follows is a solid 70 minutes of horrifying tension between the band and the Neo-Nazis and their leader, Darcy (Patrick “I am the man” Stewart).

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The old man is scarier than the big, tattooed guy.


This movie is one of the rare horror movies where no one has to be arbitrarily stupid to move the plot along. Do people sometimes make choices that result in bad things happening? Absolutely, but they only do when either A) they don’t have any way of knowing that bad things will result, B) they are forced to make the choice while under duress or pressure, or C) there are no good options available. Personally, nothing frustrates me more in a horror film than where the writer has to force the cheerleader to run up the stairs rather than out the door or the character with the baseball bat to just assume that they killed the masked slasher rather than keep beating until they’re sure. Are there movies where these actions are justified? Absolutely, the original Halloween does both of them well, but most of the time it’s just a sign that the writer had a great idea for another scene, but not the wherewithal to get there organically. This film avoids all of that.

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Like, for example, these guys actually get a gun.

Most of the film is tension developed from both of the groups trying to out-gambit each other while they’re on different sides of a door. It’s basically a super-high-stakes negotiation and, full credit to Saulnier’s control over the setting and interactions, as well as Sean Porter’s great cinematography, it always feels like everything is building up to something bad. Without ever saying it, every moment tells you that the film is not going to end well for someone, whether it’s the Ain’t Rights or the Neo-Nazis. It’s a movie where the sets are basically caked with dread.

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Even the lighting says “misfortune ahead.”

The performances are all top-notch, particularly Anton Yelchin’s Pat, who manages to maintain control over a situation despite often having a weak position, Imogen Poots’ Amber, who is dealing with PTSD from the beginning of her performance and only gets more stressed throughout, and Macon Blair’s Gabe, who acts as a perfectly rational counterbalance to most of the Neo-Nazis. Then, there’s Patrick Stewart. It’s so hard to describe how perfectly he plays this character. He’s a grizzled leader of a group of racists, but he views most of them only as easily-controllable grunts. It’s not even clear that he actually cares that much about the ideology, but is perfectly willing to exploit all of them. Mostly, he’s always completely calm and rational. At every point, he counters any attempts by the band to gain the upper hand, often by talking them into not taking any actions at all. The film only really works as well as it does because he always conveys an inherent wisdom, authority, and control from everything he says.

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Possibly because he commanded a starship.

If you haven’t seen this film and you have any love for horror or just great performances, you should see it.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – Murder Party: How to be Amazing on No Budget

Ever witness a really great performance by a street musician or a student actor? A display that makes you think “why the hell aren’t they famous? They’re better than most of the professionals.” Well, part of that is because, unfortunately, opportunities aren’t usually given entirely on merit. You may have all the talent in the world, but getting your foot in the door of most industries is a Herculean task unless you happen to be friends with, or related to, someone within the business already. For Jeremy Saulnier, this film was his epic drum solo… that was played on a pair of trashcans because that’s all he could afford.

I assume he didn’t have cocaine.


Lonely guy finds invitation to Halloween “Murder Party.” Finds out it’s an actual Murder Party with him as victim. Fortunately, the murderers are all incompetent art students who mostly kill themselves trying to kill him, before he gets free and turns the tables.

No relation. To the film.


Christopher (Chris Sharp), a super sad and lonely guy, finds a random invitation to a Halloween “Murder Party” on the street. Rather than re-use his previous Halloween costume, he makes a new one, a suit of armor, out of a cardboard box. He makes pumpkin bread and heads to the party, which takes him through some bad neighborhoods to a crappy warehouse on the Brooklyn Shore.

Seriously, I love this costume. I may MAKE this costume.

There, he meets the hosts of the party, a group of art students who, being broke, are all also in cheap costumes. There’s Vampire Paul (Paul Goldblatt), The Warriors Baseball Fury Bill (William Lacey), Zombie Cheerleader Sky (Skei Saulnier), Werewolf Macon (Macon Blair), and Lexi (Stacy Rock) who’s dressed as Pris from Blade Runner. Macon tries to murder Chris, but fails, forcing the group to tie Chris to a chair, revealing that he is the victim of their very real Murder Party.

He loses the vampire costume… I assume because the rental was up.

While they wait for the mysterious “Alexander,” their patron (Sandy Barnett), Sky eats Chris’ pumpkin bread which contains non-organic raisins, which she is allergic to. She says she just gets dizzy, but falls down and impales her head on some rusty machinery, killing her comically. Angry, Macon pours a bottle of acid on Chris, but it turns out to be diluted Acetic Acid (Vinegar) and does nothing. The group finds out that Alexander is near and hides Sky’s body. Alexander arrives with his friend Zycho (Bill Tangradi), who no one knows.

Now she’s a real zombie. Sorry, I mean corpse.

Throughout the night, the remaining art students get high and kiss up to Alexander hoping he’ll pay them to make art, resulting in them starting to turn on each other. Then, it’s revealed that Alexander’s not actually wealthy, resulting in the group turning on him as well. Everyone starts killing each other, mostly with Chris watching, until finally Chris escapes and is chased down by Bill, who Chris is forced to kill, before finally heading home, exhausted, in his knight costume.


So, if you’re a regular reader, you’ve heard me talk about Jeremy Saulnier’s other two movies Blue Ruin and Green Room because I think they’re both masterworks. Green Room, in particular, is a horror movie that somehow never has any character acting irrationally, takes place mostly in one room, is almost unnervingly realistic, and is intense from start to finish. This movie shows where a lot of those elements would come from.

Including a lot of colored lighting in the scenes.

This movie was made on a small budget. I mean, it’s estimated to have cost $190,000 by Saulnier, but that’s still a pretty cheap for this kind of film. To put this in perspective, Roger Corman, the king of B-movies, thought you couldn’t make a professional-looking film for $250,000. Sure, Clerks was shot for $27,000 and El Mariachi only cost $7,000 (and $250,000 of labor by Robert Rodriguez), but you can see the difference in the quality of the camerawork and lighting versus those movies. It does explain why the majority of this film is set in one location and consists mostly of the characters just talking to each other. There aren’t a ton of effects in the film, so the ones that are there tend to be used very well.

The melted werewolf mask was a solid effect.

One interesting thing about the movie that helps make it feel less awkward that we’re just watching the people talking in a circle is that the protagonist is in the same state. Chris spends most of the movie bound to a chair, just watching these events unfold, frequently being the only one to see certain things happen, which makes us feel connected to his PoV.

He also only says a handful of lines.

It’s also interesting that the movie forces Chris at points to deal with the bland inconveniences that are mostly hand-waved by other films, something that is hinted at early on when it has Chris return to the kitchen to turn the light off before he leaves. When Chris first tries to escape, he’s unable to figure out a plan despite being in a room full of objects that could be used as weapons in a traditional horror film, opting instead just to throw stuff at them and try to run. He can’t resist making a pun when the group starts doing it. When he does escape, he has to pee immediately, having held it for hours, resulting in Bill finding him. He stops to take his meds during the climax chase. Best of all, at the end of the movie, he’s lost his wallet and has to walk home while dressed as a cardboard knight and covered in blood. It’s little touches that distinguish the movie and show the origin of the elements of realism that set Green Room apart.

He keeps getting better.

Also, much like Green Room, the protagonist in this movie isn’t a complete dumbass. Yes, he goes to the party in the first place, but who would have thought it was an actual murder party? When he tries to escape, he takes the freight conveyer up, then when Bill follows him, he reverses it. When he gets to the student house, he keeps trying to find a phone first. He does actually do a decent job of representing how an average person would deal with something this crazy.

And the chainsaw to the face was inspired.

The villains aren’t exactly brilliant, however, and that’s part of the fun of the movie. They’re the least competent people to attempt a murder plot and they’re desperately seeking the approval and money of a man who is manipulating them with basically no effort. The movie takes a not-so-subtle shot at the nature of many “artists” who are more focused with the image of being an artist than with the actual work. They even have one of the characters admit that the rest of them want to kick Bill out of the group because he actually has talent and makes them feel inferior. At the end of the movie, Bill seems to be rejecting the art scene in favor of just killing everyone, but then stops to have a fancy drink at a party and talk with his friend who likes his work, indicating that even his rejection is still just an act.

I also love that they kowtow constantly to Alexander on the almost inane hope of getting a magically huge grant, to the point that they’re willing to ritualistically murder a person for it. It’s also a nice touch that each of them has a different medium (Painting, photography, film, performance art) which kind of reflects their personalities within the film. They’re actually much more traditionally explored than Chris is, except that we are given some great scenes to get to know Chris in a short amount of time without a lot of dialogue (which every other film should take note of). By the end of the movie, you feel like you know a surprising amount about each of these people.

They all focus around the guy with the money.

Overall, I think this movie needs to get more attention, particularly with Halloween approaching. It’s funny, it’s got a lot of the Halloween spirit in it, it’s got gore, it’s got two scenes of costume sex, it’s got candy… it’s basically everything that’s great about the holiday. Give it a watch this October!

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (, follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.