Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cabin in the Woods

(2011) ***

I think this film has something to offer as a bridge from 2000s horror to 2010s horror. Though, as Landshark puts it, "For those still reluctant to get on the Wheedon-nerdfest bandwagon, you may want to avoid this one, as it's downright infectious."
Redheads + Whedon are also a likely formula.
I won't swan-dive into a pool of Whedon Haterade, because from a linguistic POV he hath been developing something quite clever in his time writing movies and television series. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the film version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (hated the TV series), and watched Serenity three times (couldn't get into Firefly, the series upon which it was based), my verdict remains that I don't think the genre of horror is ready for Joss Whedon, and I don't think Joss Whedon is ready to tackle horror. And for me personally, a small dose of Vitamin W does me well for a few years.

One trend in Whedon's work to celebrate are strong women, which to me signifies a turning point in horror even if I admittedly am new to watching horror movies. I saw it in Splinter and see many helpless female characters in 70's and 80's horror movies, which irritates me. My applause goes to Mr. Whedon for working towards a new face of horror that levels the playing field and creates more possibilities for plot twists.
Though there's not much of a twist here, just an innocent game of Truth or Dare.
Something of a caveat for me, though, in Whedon's creations is the dialogue. I don't mind the liberty he takes upon changing words around (as outlined in the book Slayer Slang, described on this Wikipedia page) but the context of which these words are changed takes me out of the movie experience entirely.

To come to an awkward/difficult conclusion of Cabin is like answering the question of someone's favorite color under pressure: I might say my favorite color is pink but the color for this season is obviously burnt orange. I understand it will be the popular vote and it's what people like, etc. It is a part of a growing trend that I've seen with dialogue and character development in movies and TV shows. AND I concede that I am powerless against its force at taking over what we know it as entertainment.
The most entertaining part of this shot is "Angry Molesting Tree" in the lower left-hand corner.
This review might be sounding kind of bleak, but I'm just trying to sound neutral to relay my reaction of watching Cabin in the Woods and not sound like I know everything about Whedon or horror movies. It was engaging but not noteworthy, it was cute but not particularly clever since I don't think it is covering any new Whedon-territory from a writer's standpoint (or penpoint?). I'd give it a second viewing at a party where there were a couple of cool board games to play while it ran in the background.


Octopunk said...

I like a lot of what you're saying here but I'm not totally clear about some stuff at the end; it sounds like you're downplaying the relevance of your opinion in the face of the popularity of Whedon and the trends in dialogue he's partially responsible for -- is this the same woman who just defended the Predator series with all her heart? Be proud!

(I'm not being sarcastic.)

It seems odd that you've seen Serenity multiple times but you haven't taken to Firefly. How far into the series did you get?

Catfreeek said...

Nice breakdown Crystal.

@Octo Good question, I know it took me a few episodes to warm up to Firefly.

JPX said...

I never realized that Whedon was so divisive. I don't really know his work except that I loved 'The Avengers' but didn't dig 'Cabin in the Woods' so much (I need to watch it again because I watched it when it first came out months ago).

AC said...

though i am a big fan of buffy, firefly, avengers, and dr. horrible's singalong blog, i too had a less glowing response to cabin (mr. ac loved it). i do want to give it another chance, hopefully this month.

Crystal Math said...

@Octo: I've gotten a lot of sh*t-talking in the past from people who couldn't accept that I didn't like Whedon's work; that's where the apologizing comes into place.

I saw five minutes of Firefly, a total of twenty minutes of the Buffy series over a span of five years, and only finished Dr. Horrible out of obligation to others.

I strongly believe that if something doesn't capture my attention in 5-7 minutes that it's not worth torturing myself just so I can "get used to" it. People in my past have recommended this for Buffy (TV) and for Dragonball Z, among other things.

Octopunk said...

For me 5-7 minutes is too short a time frame but I employ a similar standard when I'm in art museums. I might feel like wallking through the place at a brisk pace instead of a slow, contemplative shuffle, and the art can either catch my eye and slow me down or just forget it (this going against the imagined pressure that I "should" be gazing at every single piece).

Trevor said...

I liked Cabin the Woods, not so much as a horror movie, but I liked it in the same way I liked Scream in 1996. I think Cabin in the Woods did for the horror genre, what Scream 4, was trying to do. The meta-horror movie that Scream 1,2,3 were in the late '90s had gone out of date. There's more to it, and I thought Cabin in the Woods did a fresh take on it.

I can't chime in on the Whedon thing since I didn't even know it was his when I first saw this.

50PageMcGee said...

the end of this movie reminds me a lot of The Prisoner. you have what you think is a normal narrative throughout the whole thing: trapped group being experimented on. in both cases, you get to see who's behind it all along, you just don't know what their point is.

then in the very end, the whole thing turns out to be something way more gigantic than you were ever expecting.

it's jarring. for that sort of trick to work, you really have to be along for the ride with all of it and let the story do what it do. it's a lot to ask of an audience. this is probably whedon's wonkiest, and in certain respects, least accessible work to date.

50PageMcGee said...

my god. i should review this. that's my thesis right there.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

I'm going to reserve my opinions for my own review.