Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Cabin in the Woods

We are a few days shy of Halloween, and sure enough there was a spooky movie to be consumed out of my backlog box, so today’s entry is for 2012’s The Cabin in the Woods (trailer). If you are completely unaware of this film, I suggest you watch that trailer, skip this review and come back immediately. If you did not heed my advice and only watched the trailer and know nothing about the film beforehand you probably thought the trailer made it seem like this was a stereotypical teen slasher flick with maybe some little twist (which I will be spoiling below) to keep you on your toes. Turns out that little something extra wound up being a whole new dynamic that made CitW stand out unlike any other slasher film before it.

I did not catch this in theaters until it was out for a few weeks, and during that time a couple friends and hosts on podcasts I listened to all said along the lines of “I cannot discuss this movie without giving away key plot details, just go see it!” Somehow, I managed not to see any trailers or details about the film beforehand and essentially went into the movie thinking that this was going to be unlike any slasher film I saw before. That indeed was the case, and it made for an unforgettable theatrical experience with my friends and me cracking up at the ingenuity of the film and being completely unprepared for what the filmmakers were going to throw at us next.

CitW features five college kids going out for a weekend getaway off the grid in the middle of the woods. The five victims-to-be include the burn-out Marty (Fran Kranz), the girl next door Dana (Kristen Connolly), the sports jock Curt (Chris Hemsworth), the tempting vixen Jules (Anna Hutchinson) and the scholar Holden (Jesse Williams). Worth noting is that this film finished post-production a couple years before it hit cinemas, but Lionsgate held off releasing the film until the year after Thor hit theaters so they could understandably capitalize on Chris Hemsworth’s newfound fame.

From the beginning of the film, that the trailer just barely shows a glimpse of, you are introduced to three of the top executives (Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford and Brian White) behind putting this gang of misfits together in the cabin. The film winds up referring to them as ‘the puppeteers’ who play a key role in determining the fate of the kiddos in the cabin. These puppeteers tinker away with settings in their control room by filtering in elements like nerve gas that alters the thinking of our protagonists to play along with slasher film clichés like the obligatory isolated sex scene, and splitting up while on the run from danger. When this all came to light in the film, this new dynamic completely caught me off guard and I immediately embraced the wild ride I was taken on throughout the rest of the film.

Watching the dorm rats try to figure out what is really going on with the cabin with every type of monster imaginable after them made for an entertaining journey. So were the scenes jumping back to the puppeteers and the mysteries on why they are doing this are gradually revealed. The unique nature of this film made it more of a comedy than a scare flick, and even the expected gore and death scenes are handled in a lighthearted way to make this film friendly for both hardcore slasher flick fans wanting something different and people who do not care for gratuitous gore and jump scares.

The BluRay of CitW is packed with extras. It’s not what you Think is a bonus picture-in-picture viewing mode that randomly splices in unique interview snippets with the cast and crew throughout the film. I did not watch too much of this as the interviews mute the film’s audio and made it a little too distracting. I did listen to the commentary track though with producer, Joss Whedon and director, Drew Goddard. The two have a natural chemistry and there is never a lull in their commentary. Noteworthy commentary anecdotes include getting the studio fully on board for the nature of the film, giving unique props to one of the scene decorators, and Whedon glorifying pot use throughout the commentary.

There is around an hour and a half of behind-the-scenes extras. We are not who we Are is nearly a half watch primarily revolving around the film being Whedon and Goddard’s passion project and how CitW came to be. Secret Stash is two shorter features where Franz guides us through the various pot props and Whedon gives a tour of the cabin. Army of Nightmares and Primal Terror are 12 minutes apiece and are all about the practical effects, monster costumes and CG special effects and how they tried to get the most out of practical effects and only use CG when they really needed to. Finally, there is a Q&A with Whedon and Goddard that took place at a comic convention where the two answer questions from fans for nearly a half hour. If you are into special effects I think you will get a lot out of the two effects features, and the Q&A does have a few worthwhile production stories to be had, but the only must watch of the extra features I feel is We are not who we Are.

I was a little tepid if CitW would hold up on my second viewing knowing the plot’s twist beforehand this time, but I quickly put my reservations to rest because it was still as entertaining to endure as it was the first time. Like I said above, I am not usually too big on scare or slasher flicks and I had no problems getting through this. If you know a friend or peer that is unaware of this film, drag them to your place and be entertained as they get wrapped up in the unique beast that is The Cabin in the Woods.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

12 Angry Men (1957)
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
Dirty Work
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Hercules: Reborn
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VI
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Source Code
Star Trek I-XII
Take Me Home Tonight
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
The Wrestler (2008)

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