Jeremy Saulnier directs Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat and Patrick Stewart in this claustrophobic punk band versus skinheads thriller.
Last time I trembled like this in the cinema I was watching Ringu in the ICA, 1999. Sadako was climbing out of a TV screen and I knew what was about to happen next was going to be dreadful for a character I had invested in. Jeremy Saulnier, building on his intense Blue Ruin, hits exactly the same nerve expertly with this. It is a tight, aggressive little shocker that plays out with a relentless glee. Unlike say, Return of the Living Dead (see below) the protagonists aren’t running around like headless chickens. They are introduced as resourceful but careless – they’ve run out petrol but problem solve the best siphoning opportunity with experienced petty criminal precision. And this characterises the Ain’t Rights once the shit hits the fan as they make smart plays and reckless moves to escape a horrific situation. They are a captivating crew who have trouble being decisive in their new prison, but every time the clock runs out on them the violence that occurs is explicitly awful. The voice through the door plotting against them is none other than Patrick Stewart, who gives up on anything resembling a yank accent and just launches at every line reading with a hammy Yorkshire menace. Head Skin is accompanied by vicious dogs and lower ranking bother boys with hidden agendas. Their wavering against the boss’ ideology will be the bands only thin windows to make their break. So they tool up and go for it… Kubrickian in detailed realisation of the punk scene, Fincher-esque in its cold, practical springing of the trap and John Carpenter amplified in every fibre and shot and edit and line. Borrowing from the best is no crime. Yet this still moshes, glasses and stomps to it own hideously compelling rhythm. Class.