Up until last week, only two films had ever truly scared me. The first was Kubrick's The Shining (1980), watched far too young and well past my bedtime, whilst the second was Polanski's claustrophobic Repulsion (1965). Both deal in psychological terror as opposed to gore and shock, and consider the idea of the monster inside of us rather than the horror of external forces. So for a long time I've considered this internal vein of the horror genre the most effective and probably quite unfairly dismissed gore, jump scares and masked killers as elements on the decline, utilised for their instant payoff and trailer-ready snatches of chaos.

It's not that I'm difficult to scare. Select moments in Paranormal Activity (2007) shit me up just like the rest of you, and Insidious (2012) had its fair share of traumatising shocks, but once these moments pass there is often little done to build on the momentum, and the film settles into a format of alternating calm/storm that becomes predictable and, as a result, far less effective. Likewise, gore has rarely done much to instil a lasting sense of fear in me, and the constant onslaught of blood and guts in Saw (2004) and its sequels is fairly easy to acclimatise to.

Slow burning psychological horror has, in my mind, always been infinitely more effective in terms of scaring an audience, and for the last few years I had somewhat written off large swathes of contemporary horror as cliché and reluctant to abandon a tried and tested format of rapid gratification.

Enter Jeremy Saulnier's Green Room then, a film that features many of the aforementioned cliché elements but has near enough restored my faith in the modern incarnation of the genre, tying my stomach in knots so tight that they began to kick off heat. Jump scares and gore are abundant in Green Room, and where there are certainly moments of internal horror, it is a film largely made up of violence, pain and terror borne from pursuit. However, the original and skilful manner in which these elements are used distinguishes it from anything else in recent memory.

Green Room concerns a punk band, The Aint Rights, playing a last minute gig at a neo Nazi bar and becoming trapped in the eponymous backstage area, hunted by the menacing staff after the concert goes sour. Soaked in blood, sweat and tears, Saulnier's third film successfully balances bodily carnage with intense cerebral horror, walking the thin line between psychology and physiology with the confidence of an established horror maestro as opposed to a name on the rise.

Certain moments have burnt themselves onto my retina to the extent that I'm still getting nauseous thinking about them a week later, but the real mastery of Green Room is how Saulnier connects these set pieces. Rather than allowing the storm to subside and adhering to the previously mentioned alternating mood horror format, even the calm moments have an air of menace and an edge of darkness to them. When you suspect the film may wind down momentarily, and give you space to breathe, it instead constricts further and continues to tighten the vice grip even during moments of relative silence or introspection.

It's not that gore and jump scares aren't terrifying, rather it is a case of them not often utilised by directors with the skill in pacing, atmosphere, and texture that Saulnier has. Without a strong sense of narrative or a grasp of aesthetic, the genre is reduced to horror for horror's sake, functioning simply to repay you for the six pounds you've just spent to watch it. In Green Room however, the terror is in the air, weaved into the film's fabric, lingering in the feedback from the band's amps and dripping from the walls - an immersive experience tied together with a gripping and inventive story.

Green Room may not go down as the momentous landmarks that The Shining or Repulsion are, but it can immediately be added to the list of films that successfully scared my jaded and cynical self. If this finds an audience it will be a roaring success, but even if not it will gain something that few modern horror films achieve - longevity.