Director:Drew Goddard; Cast:Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison
Stop reading this review right now. Go see the movie, then come back and we can have a conversation about it. The less you know going into it, the better. We can say this much: The hype is justified. And that’s saying something when we’re talking about geek god Joss Whedon, who produced and co-wrote the script with director Drew Goddard, a veteran of such revered TV shows as Lost and Whedon’s own Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Goddard makes his directing debut with this long-awaited film but he keeps all the moving parts humming along with thrilling fluidity and ease. The Cabin in the Woods walks a very difficult line and manages to find the right tone pretty much the entire time. Anyone can spoof and parody and wink at the camera in making fun of a specific genre, especially one like horror in which the conventions are so deeply ingrained and staying a couple steps ahead of the characters is part of the fun. But the trick is to avoid going overboard and to play it somewhat straight. Cabin affectionately toys with the familiarity of certain types and plot points but it also dares to take a step back and examine why we need to return to these sorts of films, why we love to laugh and jump, why we hunger for carnage and thirst for blood. It pays homage to the kinds of frights horror fans know and love while managing to provide surprises and twists, layers upon layers, over and over again. It’s humorously self-aware without being smugly sarcastic. Five friends go away for the weekend to a remote cabin by a lake. Clearly, they won’t all make it out alive. R for strong bloody horror and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity. 95 minutes.
DVD classics: Releases you may have missed over the years
A Scanner Darkly (2006) ®
This sci-fi thriller takes you through a drug abuser’s journey from fun into depressed paranoia and psychosis. A detective (Keanu Reeves) infiltrates a circle of junkies who spend their days on drugs and over-the-top philosophical conversations. Rotoscope animation augments a perpetual sense of illusion.
Duration: 100 minutes
Genre: Sci-fi thriller
What’s good: A visual masterstroke, the rotoscope animation really draws you in to the film.
What’s bad: A murky sense of ‘what’s happening’?
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Winona Ryder
Con Air (1997) ®
A quintessential 90’s Bruckheimer thriller, this isn’t a film you watch for special effects or convoluted plotlines — not when you’ve got Nicholas Cage with shoulder length hair and a southern twang! A hijacked plane of dangerous convicts and, er, witty dialogue (“Put... the bunny... back... in the box”) make for great fun.
Duration: 115 minutes
What’s good: Hilarious exchanges meet gripping action
What’s bad: Some of the characters, by today’s standards, are not quite as believable as they once were
Cast: Nicholas Cage, John Cusack, John Malkovich