Filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier surprised us all with 2013’s Blue Ruin, a micro-budget revenge thriller funded on Kickstarter that turned out to be one of the year’s best films. Now he’s back with Green Room, a bloody siege film about The Ain’t Rights, a punk band who get booked at a skinhead bar in rural Oregon only to witness a murder and get trapped in the venue’s green room. Surrounded by neo-nazis (led by a frightening Patrick Stewart), The Ain’t Rights will have to fight tooth and nail (and machete) to make it out of there alive. Watch the NSFW trailer below!
The film opened last Friday in New York and L.A., and expands this Friday, April 22, to theaters in the following cities:
- Austin, TX
- Boston, MA
- Chicago, IL
- Portland, OR
- Seattle, WA
- San Francisco, CA
The film will expand again next Friday (April 27) nationwide, so in between now and when you’ll be able to see it, here are five siege flicks to whet your appetite.
In the 1870s, when British colonies in Southern Africa took an interest in Zululand and its people, they issued a harsh ultimatum to Zulu king Cetshwayo. In response, Cetshwayo amassed a Zulu army of tens of thousands and waged war upon the colonies. The war lasted just under six months, with Britain declared the victor. 1964’s Zulu is based on the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, a true story of a company of about 150 British soldiers who successfully defended a small mission station against several thousand Zulu warriors. Starring Michael Caine, Stanley Baker, and directed by Cy Endfield, the film is cited as an inspiration for the Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and is a favorite film of director Ridley Scott (he references it in an early battle in Gladiator). Though it deviates enough from history to be considered historical fiction and subject matter may tarnish the film for new viewers, Zulu is shot so beautifully that it’s hard not to watch. It’s an undisputed classic whose tense and rousing battle scenes have echoed through cinema for over half a century.
Assault on Precinct 13
Being John Carpenter’s first feature after his weird student film Dark Star, you’d expect 1976’s Assault on Precinct 13 to be a lot scrappier than it actually is. It’s a remarkably clever and polished cult classic, full of humor, tightly edited shootouts, and great character moments. The undeniably charming Austin Stoker plays a rookie California patrolman who is assigned to oversee the final night at Precinct 13: an outdated police station that’s being moved from its location in the heart of a rough L.A. ghetto. The ghetto (called “Anderson”) is overrun with members of Street Thunder: a ruthless gang that shoots people at random. When a revenge-driven father kills one of the gang’s senior members, he stumbles into the station seeking protection. Two prisoners, a rookie patrolman, and several other staff members must band together to fight off waves of advancing gang members. Heavily influenced by Rio Bravo and Night of the Living Dead, Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 finds a solid groove between exploitation and nail-biting suspense.
In another film that references Zulu and the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, this tale of British soldiers beset by a pack of eight-foot werewolves sounds like a premise for a Syfy cheesefest. Well, it ain’t. Dog Soldiers is one of the best werewolf movies ever made — a vicious and witty action-horror written and directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones, Hannibal). While on a training mission in the woods of Scotland, a squad of British soldiers (Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, and others) come across the ruined camp of the SAS forces they were supposed to be training against. Among the ruins of the camp, they find Captain Ryan (Liam Cunningham) who has sustained a suspicious scratch wound. But before they can make any sense of it, the men are attacked, and must retreat to a nearby cottage with the help of a zoologist (Emma Cleasby). What follows is one hell of a siege film that recalls the balls-out tone of Predator and Aliens. See it.
This under-appreciated thriller from the director of Fight Club and Gone Girl is glossy, but carries a mean edge. Spun from a cheesy high-concept screenplay from David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Spider-Man), the film stars Jodie Foster as a wealthy divorcée who moves into a beautiful four-story brownstone with her diabetic daughter (Kristen Stewart). The house is decked out with high-tech surveillance equipment and a “panic room”, which will prove very handy when three burglars (Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, Dwight Yoakam) break into the house looking for three million dollars in bearer bonds, supposedly contained in the panic room’s safe. David Fincher directs with his usual precision, bringing focus to the film’s technical wizardry. The house is a great setting, completely devoid of charm and humanity — a 21st century haunted mansion. Fueled by scenario and technique instead of strong character work, Panic Room is a sinewy and slick siege movie. Watch it with the lights off. (Seriously — the film is lit very, very dimly.)
While critics weren’t terribly kind to it, the horror fandom welcomed The Strangers with open arms. They did so with good reason: It’s one of the scariest siege movies of the last twenty years. Young couple Kristen and James (Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman) are spending time in a remote vacation house. But after Kristen turns down James’ marriage proposal, they’re having an awkward and tense night. Things get even more tense when three masked assailants show up, and the couple must work together to fend them off. Writer/director Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers hasn’t aged as well as it should, if only because it relies on things we now regard as tired tropes of contemporary horror: it’s “inspired by true events” (yawn), the villains are just people in silly masks, and the unsatisfying ending is dark for dark’s sake. But its few blemishes aside, the way the film is shot and staged is still incredible, and takes inspiration from stage play thrillers like Wait Until Dark. Food for thought: without The Strangers, there is no The Purge, which has film number three coming out this year. Somewhere in Hollywood, they’re still trying to get a second Strangers off the ground.