Sunday, April 15, 2012
Reel Rhino Reviews: Cabin in the Woods and Lockout
So the results are in...The Hunger Games have taken the weekend...again, banging out $21.5 million!!! This is the first flick to roll four weeks in a row since Avatar did it in January of 2010. The movie sits at 22nd all-time on the domestic box-office already and it is only four weeks in!
The Stooges, as the most family friendly flick (it was rated PG) of the bunch, came in at second at $17.1 million, with the R-rated The Cabin in the Woods jamming a solid $14.8 million, but besting the Stooges per screen average opening on less screens overall. Number 4 was Titanic 3-D and Number 5 was American Reunion.
The second flick I review today, Lockout (see below), came in at a paltry ninth place, bringing in only $6.25 million but playing on over a thousand less screens than the stooges. So the PG-13 crowd that should have been seeing Lockout, apparently was watching, or re-watching Hunger Games.
I did also see The Raid: Redemption, which I am saving for a mid-week post, but let me say quickly, it is re-donk-a-donk.
Also, the week ahead looks bleak...the three wide-openings for April 20th....Chimpanzee, The Lucky One (Ugh), and Think Like a Man. I have little interest in any of those, so it looks like I will be searching the art houses for next week!
For now, on to business...
The Cabin in the Woods
So...Biff wants to be a buff! (what's that line from? anyone know?)
I fancy myself a bit of a horror buff, reaching back about as far as Romero's Night of the Living Dead, loving the classic era of modern horror (1970's) and most of the first installments of the era of sequeled/franchise horror (Nightmare, Friday, Halloween, etc.). Perhaps my favorite genre is the splatter film, gore film, or "Splatstick." Most notable on my list of favorites here is Romero's Dawn of the Dead, which is vastly superior to Zach Snyder's 2004 remake, and also Romero's lesser seen Day of the Dead.
The "cabin in the woods" genre is almost a subset of horror in and of itself...it kind of goes hand in hand with the summer camp sleepaway horror flicks, except that with the lone cabin, ala Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead, you are on an island, so to speak, as far as being utterly alone.
So we have your standard cabin in the woods flick here...insomuch that the damn title is even, "Cabin in the Woods!" Well, that's actually just a bit of tongue-in-cheek marketing at play, because this flick is anything but standard.
Cabin in the Woods is much more of a comedy than it is a horror flick and while there were a few hearty jump scares that got my blood pumping, this is a flick that is wholly self aware and is played much more for laughs, than for pure horror scares.
At the outset of the flick, you meet a pair of scientists in Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins. They are talking about some kind of operation that is going on around the world, and how it has come down to the Japanese and the Americans to come through. Out of the gate, you realize, this is a horror flick with a twist, and at no point during the movie, does the film try to keep you from realizing that things are absolutely not what they seem.
That is the beauty of this movie, it is telegraphing its differences from your standards run of the mill horror flick, but you still have NO IDEA what the end game is, and that keeps you 100% invested in seeing this story unfold!
The story...a genius effort from Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, with Goddard also directing. Goddard has been on Team Whedon since the good ol' Buffy and Angel days, being involved as a writer on the prior and a writer and story editor on the latter. Cabin in the Woods is exactly what it sounds like...a story about a cabin in the woods. My only surprise was that we started off with only five kids headed out to the wilderness, which seemed like a little light on victims, but in the end, it all came together and it all made sense.
The five kids include quite a spread of folks, most notably including Chris Hemsworth as Curt. Yes, Thor himself is one of the primaries in this thing, and this was filmed long before he hit the mainstream as Kirk's papa in the 2009 Star Trek reboot and certainly before he became the God of Thunder and started his path towards the Avengers. The other four are much lesser known actors, but things may changes as this flick is bound to launch them into somewhat of a cult status as the hapless victims in a new evolution in horror.
Let me not spoil a thing about this story, other than to say that you have never seen anything like this and while you learn early on that a team of scientists is following the plight of our young victims, you really have to wait until the very end to learn why. Also, there comes a moment at the end of this flick when this thing just blows off the rails into super crazy, and when it does, you will either love it, or like the older couple in my theater, perhaps stand up and exit the theater. I think most of you will love it, but it gets crazy, fast, as this flick heads toward its resolution.
4.5 of 5 Horns for this fantastic reinvention of a played out subgenre of the horror scene. Kudos Mr. Goddard, Kudos Mr. Whedon....now Joss, you best not let us down with The Avengers...I have faith in you...you gave us Firefly, they took it away, but you continue to thrive, and I will consume every bit of what you serve!
In fact, given the startling rate at which Guy Pierce's Snow spews one-liners, this is almost a full fledged comedy. Produced by Luc Besson, a genius who among other things, brought us The Fifth Element, which also had a fair amount of comedy, but didn't seem to try nearly as hard. If most of his jokes didn't stick, I would have walked away from this with a completely different view, but for trying so, so hard, this script was actually pretty damn funny!