Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Cabin in the Woods


2011 ****1/2

Well folks, I've found my pick for this year's Trick 'r Treat. I think this movie was made for us. I know there are lots of horror movie fans out there, and maybe they have their own little blogs and they saw this and felt the same way about it, but they're wrong. This movie was made for us.

I"m very torn about how to talk about it because the fewer spoilers the better, so I'll stick to stuff you could have seen in a TV spot. The gag is that you have the standard template for countless horror movies: five friends with specific character types head to the titular cabin to get killed, presumably -- except this gang is being tracked by a huge team of government specialists operating out of some unseen NASA-like installation. There are players behind the curtain.

I was going to post a trailer but the ones I watched present the idea in the same order I just did: kids in cabin... but who is WATCHING them? The thing is, that's not the way the movie starts. The movie starts behind the curtain; we meet the mysterious government spooks before we meet any of our coed heroes.


And it's these two adorable clowns, the dead dad from Six Feet Under and Josh from West Wing. Cabin takes a seldom-used page from Enemy of the State and makes the bad guys pretty damn likeable.

So the cards are on the table right when the movie starts, but not all the cards. The gang behind the scenes might know everything that's going on, but nobody delivers a fat wad of exposition. We have to piece it together from their banter, which is couched in a mode of office gossip.

The result is, among other things, a hyper-meta treatise on the self-aware nature of horror movies. If this sounds too much like Scream, fear not -- this movie is the antidote for all of that screechy posturing. It may be laden with horror movie in-jokes, but it makes sharp comments at the same time and never loses the fun.

On the downside, the final reveal doesn't quite live up to the level of buildup that precedes it, and Sigourney Weaver makes a slightly awkward cameo. And there are some CGI effects that aren't downright terrible but won't suspend your disbelief (to the filmmakers' credit, it seems they went with practical effects whenever they could).

I was going to do a different post with discussion in the comments, so jazzed am I to share about the climactic endgame. Maybe I'll try later, if anyone takes my bait.

Last bit of bait: it's well-acted, fast-paced, with decent gore and one Obligatory Tit Shot (of course... nuts to you, Scream). There is humor but it's not a comedy, so the jokes are blended in smoothly.

And there is something that starts happening at the 1 hour 15 minute mark that you all simply must see. Seriously.

7 comments:

Octopunk said...

I dis Scream because it makes all this noise about the Obligatory Tit Shot but it doesn't actually have one. Lousy 90s.

50PageMcGee said...

cgi criticisms (of which i don't remember having any) aside, the scope of the payoff is pretty grand. when the big reveal happens, i found the payoff pretty gleeful.

and god bless chris hemsworth. regardless of how silly the movie around him, i've yet to see him act like he was just there for the paycheck.

Landshark said...

Darn, I wanted to be the first to review this, as I had a feeling it would be this year's blog fav.

Catfreeek said...

I am so glad to see that you felt the same as I do about this film. Tony & I saw it at the theater when it came out (Showcase connections, we still go for free)and we loved it. I believe I described it as a refreshing new take on horror. As a genre, horror has been pretty disappointing lately it was so nice to know there are still some fresh ideas out there. Great pick and yes, it was made for "us".

DCD said...

Totally adding this to my list!! I thought it sounded interesting when it came out. Very cool!

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Added to the queue! I kept hearing good things about this movie but because the name is so generic sounding I kind of ignored it. Intriguing review Octo!

AC said...

i really liked, but didn't love, i think my expectations were too high because it was joss. mr ac did love and is watching again next week with some friends, so you'll get his review at least. i may need to give it another chance to see if the love kicks in.