'The Cabin in the Woods' turns the horror genre on its ear, while 'Raid' is nonstop action
This weekend isn't really a big one for new movie releases, so I thought I'd catch up with a movie that came out last week and been receiving a lot of media attention. It turns out, it's actually quite worthy of all the buzz it's been getting.
The first "Scream" movie in 1996 deconstructed the horror genre by having its characters talk about horror movie “rules” even as they were in one themselves. More than 15 years later, the new mind-bending horror flick "The Cabin in the Woods" takes horror satire to a whole new level.
The director of Marvel’s upcoming movie "The Avengers" (Joss Whedon) and a veteran of the hit TV series "Lost" (Drew Goddard) have teamed up for one of the most original horror movies in a long time.
It begins rather strangely. You may wonder whether you're in the correct theater or not: Two middle-aged men (character actors Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) walk to work in a high-security compound making idle office chatter. After a big title card comes up and assures you you ARE in the correct theater, the action abruptly shifts to something more familiar to horror audiences: a group of teenagers spending a weekend in a secluded cabin.
The teenagers fit the stereotypes of most slasher movies: The jock (Chris Hemsworth, "Thor"), the slut (Anna Hutchison), the brain (Jesse Williams), the stoner (Fran Kranz), and the virgin (Kristen Connolly). The strategic unfolding of how these two stories relate to each other is what makes "The Cabin in the Woods" such a refreshing surprise. If you’ve ever wondered why someone walks into a pitch-black basement all alone or does other really stupid things that usually wind up getting them killed in horror movies, "The Cabin in the Woods" has the answer.
The entire film works as a metaphor for horror filmmakers and horror audiences. At least for commercially successful horror films, the ones that make a ton of money usually follow some pretty established templates. "The Cabin in the Woods" certainly sends up the slasher movie template, but it also opens up to cast a much wider net, and the story actually supports that larger exploration.
Much has been written about the "twist" or "surprise" ending. Simply put: there isn't one. It would be a shame to spoil the bigger picture of "The Cabin in the Woods" before seeing it, but what's really happening is a slow trickling out of information that will gradually alter the perspective of what you're seeing.
All the meticulous buildup leads to a hugely satisfying payoff; the kind that doesn’t really exist in mainstream modern horror anymore. And—despite all its ironic detachment—"The Cabin in the Woods" has tons of laughs, some truly jaw-dropping moments and a couple scenes of unexpected poignancy that make it more than a parody movie. Whether you like horror movies or not, you owe it to yourself to see "The Cabin in the Woods."
At Liberty Hall this weekend is the action import "The Raid: Redemption," directed by Gareth Evans, who apparently has no time for things like character development or reflection. Who needs 'em in an action movie? This film is so packed with non-stop action and violence that it has raised the ire of no less than Roger Ebert, who gave the movie one star, and then wrote an entire other blog to explain himself.
"When I began, I found the star rating system to be absurd. I still do. But I thought I'd found a way to work with it. I'd take a "generic approach." Instead of pretending a star rating reflected some kind of absolute truth, I'd give stars based on how well I thought a movie worked within its genre and for its intended audience. A four-star rating might indicate the movie transcended generic boundaries. For example, what genre does "The Tree of Life" or "Synecdoche, NY" belong to?
I can't take this much longer. I can't function like a butcher's scale. Is it enough to spend two hours determining if a film "achieves its generic purpose?" Shouldn't it do more than that? Perhaps provide some humor, humanity, romance, suspense, beauty, strategy, poetry."
Also, showing at the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, KS is "Air Racers 3D," an IMAX documentary narrated by "Fast and Furious" star Paul Walker about the legendary Reno National Championship Air Races.The movie promises "spectacular aerial photography and unprecedented access granted to the course."
Check for showtimes here.