THRILLVILLE: Will "the Thrill" Viharo's weird, wild world of Pulp Fiction, B Movies, & the Lounge Lizard Lifestyle.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Thrillville reviews: "The Cabin in the Woods"

(SPECIAL NOTE: For over a year and I half I regularly wrote movie reviews for Examiner.com, as "Oakland Indie Movie Examiner." Due to the fact they're pushy, insufferable, ungrateful cheapskates, I recently quit that racket cold, so I'll be posting occasional movie reviews on this blog from now. If I'm going to work for free, or practically free, I'd rather just work for myself. Dig.)

Old school poster on the right is actually much more indicative
of the movie's tone and agenda
Joss Whedon, of Buffy and Avengers fame, certainly doesn't need a shout-out from me, but his latest cinematic offering, actually shot in 2008 but delayed for release due to some sort of big studio corporate chickenshit, merits my public support. Simply and somewhat deceptively called The Cabin in the Woods, it's a snide, bumpy ride to the grindhouse and back, riffing off slasher flicks, EC Comics, Scooby Doo, H.P. Lovecraft, George Romero, Stephen King, and much, much more. It started off a bit contrived for my tastes, immediately revealing the setup, as a bunch of cute but annoying youngsters (including pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth) travel down the formulaic path into the deep, dark forest, where they encounter the usual monstrous mayhem, only this time it's all manipulated by unseen corporate forces. Pretty much like every day life. That may be part of the irony here, and indeed, much of my appreciation of this flick comes from what I'm reading into it. That may also be part of the point. The storyline takes some outrageous twists and turns, all for the film's eventual benefit, as producer Whedon and director Drew Goddard (who both co-wrote the often witty screenplay) finally goes to the outrageous, surreal places I would've gone, though naturally, as a pulp novelist myself, I would've gone much, much further (requiring an impossibly big budget, no doubt - as well as a box office poisonous X-rating.) There's only one scene of gratuitous female nudity, included mostly as a gimmick, but hey, bare boobs are bare boobs, and always appreciated. The film is self-consciously exploiting the whole concept of exploitation movies, so none of it is to be taken seriously. It's much more of an unconventional comedy than a straight up horror flick. This may alienate some hardcore gorehounds, and I was a bit restless for at least the first half, since even when satirizing stereotypical storytelling tropes, you still have to traverse overly familiar turf, and that can get boring fast. Still, the fantastically frenetic finale, particularly the deliciously decadent denouement, maybe the most misanthropic statement I've ever seen in a mainstream movie, at least since Dr. Strangelove (1963), were extremely entertaining and satisfying. Rather than reveal any more of the carefully orchestrated and deliberately paced plot points, I've posted some images and videos that collectively illustrate the film's many influences, at least as I see it. Overall, Cabin in the Woods wound up being a nice surprise. The old saying posits that "it's the journey, not the destination" that counts. In this case, it's quite the opposite: The End justified the mean spirits that made this mini-masterpiece possible. Cheers.
Cthulhu