It’s a Triple Threat!
Day 18 GREEN ROOM
When I saw Green Room for the first time in July, it became my “favorite” film of 2016. I put favorite in quotes because damn this is a mean movie. It’s incredibly well-made, creating suspense in the first 10 minutes and then not letting you go until the end credits, but it’s also so very dark and violent. As with most movies that I put on the yearly top spot, I have to revisit them a couple months later to see how they stand up. And oh boy, Green Room is just as intense the second time as it is the first. I might’ve known what was coming but I remained on the edge of my seat anyway. Actually, it added something more the second time, as I knew what would happen and was left hoping it wouldn’t this time, because our heroes do not deserve their fates.
If you don’t know what Green Room is about, the film follows a young metal band on a failed tour across the country. In need of gas money to get back home, they take a gig at a skinhead bar, not because that’s their scene but because they’re desperate. After the band witnesses a murder, the bar employees lock them in the green room and both sides are left in a state of unease as they plot against the other. The band just wants to get away and the bar’s owner wants to contain the situation, by any means necessary.
The movie feels unexpectedly topical as the bandmates are forced to contend with Donald Trump’s most deplorable in order to survive. Trump is never mentioned in the movie, nor is his campaign alluded to, but you know what I mean. America’s white supremacist hate culture has been legitimized by a candidate who refuses to condemn that section of his followers. The cockroaches that we’ve always known were there aren’t as frightened by the light as they used to be. Green Room isn’t a political movie – at least not obviously political – but the choice to shine the spotlight on white supremacists for a modern horror movie seems very precisely 2016 to me. And while I know that the film is fiction, I also know that places like the bar in the movie do exist in our country… and man, I hate that.
The villain, quietly played by Patrick Stewart, is one of the most chilling you’ll see in movies this year and the young star Anton Yelchin gives his most layered performance of his tragically short career. Green Room is also further proof that director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin) is the real deal. This movie may be too brutal for some but it’s a thrilling experience for the rest of us.
DAY 19 HE NEVER DIED
First of all, this isn’t much of a horror film. Though the character gets lost in sounds of the Apocalypse ringing through his head, and there’s a fair amount of blood and weirdness, He Never Died seems an oddball on this list of Halloween-themed movies.
Even so, I’m glad I watched it yesterday, because this movie is frickin’ awesome. Henry Rollins plays Jack, a quiet guy who leads a boring life. He sleeps most the day, goes to the same diner every night, doesn’t drink, plays bingo with seniors… and also doesn’t seem to feel pain. I can’t go into too much detail on this without spoiling things. He Never Died is an urban fantasy with a hilarious sense of humor, a few crazy scenes of violence, and one awesome character at the center of it all.
I’m left hoping for more, like a He Never Died 2: He’s Still Not Dead. Please, World. Make it so.
DAY 20 THE HALLOW
Corin Hardy’s Irish supernatural horror film The Hallow starts fairly familiar – a young couple moves to a woodsy town with some superstitious ideas – but it quickly veers right into nightmare territory. The Hallow is a fairy tale horror movie, something rare in cinemas but a sub-genre I’ve always liked. Taking a bit from Straw Dogs and then going into Guillermo del Toro territory, it’s one of the coolest feature directorial debuts in recent years, and one helluva monster movie. If you dig stuff like Pan’s Labyrinth, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and Pumpkinhead, then give this a go. If there’s any justice in the world of horror movie fandom, The Hallow will soon be considered a cult classic.
Tomorrow: Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of books and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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