Posts Tagged ‘Horror’

I was first made aware of Cabin in the Woods by a delightfully vague and intriguing viral video marketing campaign called Ultimate Cheerleader Fail. Watch it..

Cabin? Rubix Cube? Hmm.

Though at first it seems confusing (and annoyingly irrelevant to the title if you were hoping to see some broken cheerleader legs!), with hindsight after having seen the film it’s actually a delightfully subtle reference to one of the key scenes – no prizes for guessing which one.

I didn’t actually see any promotional trailers before going to the cinema, so the only insight I had was this seemingly meaningless viral video and general compliments heard through the Tweetvine. My expectations were high, without having an real understanding as to why this was. Drawing upon the vague praises I’d read online and other perhaps tenuous clues like the title, I was awaiting a typical teen horror: attractive jocks and cheerleaders go to holiday in the woods, camping out in a cabin doing what American teens do best (drink/high five/conform to innate sexist gender hierarchy). Until suddenly, unexpectedly they are set upon by some kind of fantastical threat (wolf/serial killer/giant badger etc), and mercilessly massacred in ways perfectly suited for 3D viewing. Cue the copious amounts corn syrup.

On the surface, I wasn’t wrong!

Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins - long way from Step Brothers eh?

From the outset, Cabin in the Woods, appears to conform to this somewhat staid representation of teen horror, which is surprising from Joss Whedon, the creative talent behind such geek classics (classeeks) as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, the contemporary Avengers Assemble… and of course four episodes of Roseanne. Oh, and Drew Goddard, the co-writer of modern Godzilla doppleganger Cloverfield ,was involved too! Yet, as you would hope from this nerd-God made mortal, there is something deliciously special bubbling beneath the surface.

Cabin in the Woods starts off with a depressingly conventional set up, whereby 5 stereotypical  teenage archetypes (the virgin, the jock, the scholar, the stoner, the promiscuous female– played by Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams, Fran Kranz and Anna Hutchison respectively) embark upon a summer break to a picturesque American setting. We have the rustic wooden cabin, the crisp exotic lake. All that’s missing is the Californian surfers and a bald eagle – wait, he was there wasn’t he, briefly. So far the film wouldn’t seem amiss categorised alongside the stupidly strung out American Pie or Final Destination franchises… In case you’re unsure, that is NOT a compliment.

Cabin in the Woods cast

In their attempt to “get off the grid”, as conspiracist Kranz explains with disappointing conventionalism, they find themselves the unwitting protagonists in an unexpected tale of murder. This is where Cabin in the Woods really comes into its own. Though the typical blood and gore remain, it manages to relinquish all other teen horror precedents, and it does so forcefully. Foul play is hinted at throughout, especially in the brilliantly delivered scenes between Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford and this becomes the main focus of the film. There is a devastatingly satisfying plot twist to unearth, unseen since the likes of Memento, Fight Club or the Shawshank Redemption, culminating in the opulent CGI of the films blissfully geeky finale. What follows is a cinematic diatribe, commenting on the nature of the entertainment industry, of reality television and most significantly, of the horror genre. Cabin in the Woods is beautifully self-reflexive, satirising the very nature of horror and how it is delivered on the silver screen.

I’m reluctant to say any more, in the hope of whetting your appetites without ruining the pay off. Suffice to say though, this is a film that you simply must see! It offers  interesting characterisation executed by a genuinely likeable cast. Coupled with this is the spectacularly clever ulterior discussions, and the seamless unity of hilarious black comedy and gory fantasy horror, reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s celebrated Evil Dead franchise.

If you see one film this year, make sure it’s Avengers Assemble. If you see two, add Cabin in the Woods to the bill. Whedon will thank you for it.

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Paranormal Inactivity

Posted: October 29, 2011 in Cinema, Reviews
Tags: , , ,

How in God’s name can they justify making a trilogy of films where literally nothing happens throughout until the last 10 minutes?! Sorry if that sounds like a little bit of a spoiler about the third film, but if you’ve seen the previous two then you will be under no illusion that anything would have improved.

I am gutted to have paid £13 for a ticket (outrageous West End prices) for essentially 5 minutes of footage that was almost, almost worth watching. I gather that the slow pace of the films is supposed to build suspense until the final ”pay-off”, but unfortunately you are made to care so little by the end that it becomes completely inconsequential. Moreover, the attempt to include some ridiculously vague explanation for the existence of the violent ghosties was absolutely pointless. If anything, it was more damaging, with the lack of plot development making the point entirely redundant.

The only real praise I can give Paranormal Activity 3 is for the inventive inclusion of a moving camera which was surprisingly effective. It did indeed build suspense and was a clever device for drawing the audiences eye towards particular parts of the screen in order to slowly reveal what was happening, whilst creating particular expectations. Beyond this though, the film was a complete waste of time!

Perhaps the scariest thing is the prospect of Paranormal Activity 4 due for a 2012 release. AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!

Don't cry! Hopefully they won't finish making it!!