The main idea behind most horror films is that danger can come from anywhere. It could be from something obvious like a big, nasty looking cave in the middle of the woods outside an abandoned village. It could be from the seemingly normal guy running the hotel who winds up hearing the murderous voice of his long-dead mother. It could be even be from within yourself as you unleash your dormant powers to control objects and set fire to the gym. The point is you never know where it’s going to be lurking and what form it’s going to take.
In the new movie Green Room danger certainly comes from an unexpected place. A punk band on tour in the Pacific Northwest arrives at a small club for their gig, which goes well enough. But after the show the band’s members stumble upon a murder that’s been committed. When they’re detained by the club’s staff they find that the business is a front for a group of neo-Nazis who are none too thrilled about being exposed like this. While the hate group’s leader (played by Patrick Stewart) figures out how to deal with the problem of witnesses the band’s members struggle not just to escape but to simply survive a situation that is getting increasingly surreal.
The first poster sets up a violent story, to be sure. A lone figure is in a hallway that’s covered in graffiti – we can assume it’s some sort of club since that’s where these things usually are found and the door in back says “Band Members Only” – wielding a large knife like are used to chop through forests. He’s not aiming it at anyone but seems to be doubled over as if he’s in pain or something. The top of the poster features a few pull quotes from early reviews of the movie and the whole things features a slight green tinge that’s in keeping with the title.
A motion poster was released that certainly was creepy. It presents a series of fast-moving images in the background of an image that’s dominated by Stewart’s face and shows the same kind of wall graffiti seen on the other one-sheet to continue that theme. It’s effective setting a tone of dread and presenting Stewart’s character as the main antagonist since we also hear his voice saying “This will all be over soon, gentlemen” along with some screams from other voices.
The red-band trailer that debuted first starts off with the band being interviewed about how important live music is. When they’re done with a gig they’re told to follow someone from the club but when one member goes into the dressing room to get something he sees a dead body lying there. That leads to the whole band being restrained by a group with mysterious motives, who hold them for a while. We see the members of the band start to fray under the strain of confinement. They make various attempts at escape but nothing seems to get them very far.
It’s a spooky trailer that sells the film not so much as a horror flick but as the kind of physiological terror story that’s much more intriguing to many movie goers. It’s filled with confined spaces, minimal lighting and what looks like a bad-ass performance by Stewart as the head of whatever this group that’s holding the band is.
The green-band trailer that came out later shows the band is having issues getting to their next gig, resorting to siphoning gas out of other people’s cars. We skip the “how” of them becoming prisoners of the weird group that runs the club they wind up at and go straight into them trying to escape from the owner and his group of psychopaths, something that doesn’t go well at all.
It’s a little tighter of a trailer but I do miss the setup. Without it the story makes little sense and really comes off as a bit off-kilter. Still, the horror and tension of the story still come through loud and clear, particularly selling the creepy performance from Stewart.
Just about a week before release a new red-band trailer dropped. It opens with the band prepping for the gig before cutting to them finding a dead body and being detained by the club’s ownership. The rest of the trailer is all about the horrific situations that the band find themselves as they try to escape and the efforts made to stop that escape.
Online and Social
The movie’s official website opens with full-motion video in the background and snippets from early positive reviews in the foreground along with a big “Buy Tickets” button
When you open up the content menu on the left the first section is “About” which has a good Synopsis of the story and the stakes for the band that’s trapped at the club as well as a Cast list and the name of writer/director Jeremy Saulnier. The first two trailers, the red- and green-band versions, are both in the “Videos” section.
In a unique and contextual promotion A24 launched an online radio show at GreenRoom-Radio.com that featured just the kind of music that would be featured in the club in which most of the movie’s action takes place. The programming was curated and hosted by a well-known genre DJ. That’s a fun way to keep things going and make a direct appeal to music fans while acknowledging the world the characters in the movie would likely live in if they were real.
The Facebook page for the movie has the usual array of trailers, featurettes and promotional graphics. It also links to a number of early reviews for the movie and to quite a few stories on Green Room Radio, the better to solidify the connection between the movie and the actual music scene it’s kind of set in. The Twitter page has a lot of the same material with the addition of a plethora of RTs from fans who are excited for the movie, critics who are extolling its virtues and more. There’s a heavy sense here in making sure that it’s conveyed that yes, there’s a lot of hype for the movie but that it’s justified.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’m aware of here. I can logically guess there was at least some online advertising done on industry and niche horror sites at the very least but I haven’t seen anything directly.
Media and Publicity
Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier talked about the movie and how it’s meant to be him staying true to his indie roots instead of going off to Hollywood blockbusters. He also elaborated on the creation of the story, what kind of music inspired him and how he assembled the eclectic and interesting cast.
Other than that I couldn’t find a whole lot of press or publicity for the movie…but did it need it? There’s such strong word of mouth among critics and others who were not only fans of Saulnier’s previous work but those who had seen this movie and were praising it to the masses that a press push of some sort likely wouldn’t have moved the needle very much. The success of the movie will depend on how much stock the readership of various news sites put in the opinions of the critics and commentators there, it seems.
As I said above, the movie’s fate will likely hinge on whether or not an audience believes the strong word of mouth that’s been generated for it. This is a grassroots effort that’s been started by the studio, picked up by fans of the genre who found something inventive and original and then stoked by the studio again, who put pull quotes and other examples of homegrown enthusiasm all over the campaign. The official elements are there to keep the conversation going and give those who already like the movie a new chance to talk about it more than anything else, it seems.
Those official elements – the trailers, posters and more – all work to sell a deeply disturbing movie about the kind of evil that arises from the soul of truly twisted people, not from any demon or outside force. This is about exploring the depths of human depravity. That will appeal to some people and turn off others, but that’s the move that’s on display in this campaign. To that point, I’m kind of surprised there isn’t more of a “We dare you to see it” element to the marketing, though in place of that the studio has chose to present the angle of “the hype is real,” which again shifts the onus to the word of mouth. Not for the faint of heart is my guess.