If the experience of watching Green Room feels like getting knocked around the world's nastiest mosh pit, that's entirely by design. You don't know what chaotic violence is coming next.

The frontman of this bracing new horror-thriller, writer-director Jeremy Saulnier, strands a punk quartet in a backwoods club run by white supremacists. After witnessing a murder, the band is engulfed in a desperate fight to the death against machete-wielding skinheads who have them vastly outnumbered.

"I know a lot of filmmakers who try to make 'punk' movies," said Saulnier. "But most bog themselves down in ideology and punk references left and right. [Green Room] is about taking the energy, aesthetic and propulsive qualities of the music and using them in support of a genre siege thriller." Saulnier, now 39, was introduced to punk in 1985, via the Dead Kennedys' seminal album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, and he would ask his mother to take him to the record store to buy the LPs.

"Often I'd hate them," Saulnier said. "It was about trying to be cool."


When Saulnier reached his teens, in the early '90s, the D.C. punk/hard-core scene was still flourishing.

Saulnier fondly recalls his time in the trenches ("I liked to get into the pit, but I wasn't particularly tough"), and the motley assortment of attendees, from kids in letterman jackets to skinheads.

Just as you can't really understand punk music without the physical experience of being there, Green Room promises moviegoers an in-the-moment, visceral punch.

Saulnier is keenly aware that he's made an analogue movie for a digital age. In one self-conscious moment, the Ain't Rights talk about eschewing the modern-day promotion of social media, even if it means relegating themselves to obscurity. Released by the innovative distributor A24, which put out the similarly idiosyncratic horror movie The Witch, Green Room isn't so defiant about promotion. It's too rough for the arthouse, too raw for the multiplex.

While Saulnier hopes Green Room will succeed by channelling the immediacy of an '80s D.C. punk show, his technique is more sophisticated than it seems.

"I think we have a far more intense film than any of these superhero franchises," Saulnier said. "I firmly believe that when you have intense, small-scale violence, you can ratchet it up tenfold and it will have a bigger impact than any sort of planetary destruction."

What: Green Room
Where: Event Cinemas Queen St

When: Tomorrow, 4.30pm