Back in my younger days I was in a Johnny Cash tribute band called Short of Cash. We weren’t very good and played many a bad gig, one in particular was at an extremely strict school who, should we say, took exception to our inclusion of ‘Cocaine Blues’ within the set list. As bad as that felt at the time, it will never compete with playing to a bunkers worth of neo-Nazis in the middle of a secluded forest in America, who are directing all of their aggression and hatred towards you after covering the Dead Kennedy’s ditty ‘Nazi Punks’ (Google the lyrics).
That is the situation we find the ‘The Ain’t Rights’ in, having naively accepted the gig with the promise of $350 after a string of unsuccessful gigs on their self-funded tour across the Pacific Northwest. Luckily for them, the rest of their set manages to repair the opening numbers’ damage and they win over the crowd allowing them to complete the show. Eager to make a swift departure from the venue, the band pack up their gear and head on before guitarist, Sam (Alia Shawkat), remembers that she has left her phone charging in the titular green room. Bassist, Pat (Anton Yelchin) runs in to grab the phone when he stumbles upon two of the clubs regulars standing over a body which has a knife embedded in its skull. Cue panic, terror and mayhem.
Alarm bells should have been ringing as soon as the band arrived at the venue as their name had been incorrectly written as the ‘Aren’t Rights’ on the billboard in a very Spinal Tap moment (“Spinal Tap first, Puppet Show second”) just proving that the devil is literally in the detail. Their journey through the forest by car is a clear homage to The Shining and writer/director Jeremy Saulnier obviously has a love for the horror genre as appreciative nods are also directed at Friday The 13th, Wolf Creek and, perhaps most impressively, Scream which recreates one of Billy and Stu’s most memorable moments.
As the band members are all bundled into the green room they are locked in with Amber (Imogen Poots) who was best friends with the now dead girl and giant uber nazi Big Justin (Eric Edelstein) who is keeping guard of their actions. With no way out, the peril is ramped up to eleven and the introduction of Patrick Stewart’s Darcy (a great casting coup), who is the leader of the ‘movement’, causes events to escalate quickly.
The venue is a claustrophobic, dark, concrete slab and as Saulnier’s camera meanders through its corridors and passageways amongst the definitely far rights, you find yourself just praying to see Louis Theroux stood in a corner looking awkward - but that sense of relief never truly arises as we relentlessly move on.
For a 90 minute horror it certainly packs a punch and it will stay with you long after you have left the cinema. It doesn’t quite reach the levels of hopelessness as other similar films and a little more Patrick Stewart would have benefitted everyone involved, but I say that about my daily life on a regular basis.
With a great cast and a murky soundtrack, it is often shocking and visually stunning, despite the horrors and realisations of what you’re actually looking at for large portions of the run time. It will sit comfortably upon the horror table in what is certainly one of the better video nasties for the modern era. If you find yourself wincing or hiding behind your popcorn, fear not, that shows that you’re still human!
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