Sorry for the corny title…..I couldn’t help it.
Some of the best movies are the ones that take a classic, cliche or overplayed structure and turns it on its head. Joss Whedon, creator of the cult classic television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, takes a classic slasher film structure and decides to add his own brilliant twit to it in The Cabin in the Woods.
If you have not seen this film, there may be a few small spoilers in this review but nothing that will ruin the whole film. While I normally try to avoid spoilers in my reviews I am including some here because the previews for this film were quite misleading. A Cabin in the Woods is not your normal horror film. Sure you have your classic band of characters: the whore (Anna Hutchison), the athlete (Chris Hemsworth), the scholar (Jesse Williams), the fool (Fran Kranz) and most importantly the virgin (Kristen Connolly). The characters take a weekend away to a cabin in the woods. After finding some creepy elements to the house does the group try and leave? No. After finding a creepy basement filled with odd knick-knacks do they try and leave? No. After touching one of the objects and releasing a family of zombies to attack them do they try and leave? Well yes but that’s when things start to get weird (because they were not weird enough already).
As we watch our main characters delve into a horrific horror plot it starts to become clear that the entire situation is contrived. Throughout the film we jump back and forth from our classic horror story to scenes where we follow two men, Gary Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Steve Hadley (Bradley Whitford), in an underground facility. As we follow these men we learn that in the center of the Earth lives a number of ancient Gods. Every year the people of earth must make a sacrifice to these Gods, sacrificing a whore, an athlete, a fool and so on and so forth. Most people do not know about this sacrifice, only a handful of people in facilities across the world know that make these sacrifices happen every year.
Joss Whedon is a brilliant writer. With The Cabin in the Woods Joss creates a darkly comedic film that explains the elements of classic horror films that always seem to be the same. Why each film has a virgin and a jock ect. Why the virgin sometimes is the only one to survive. The plot of this film is absolutely genius, scary and filled with Whedon’s classic dark humor. While the people that were looking to see a pure slasher film were disappointed by the extreme twist, this film certainly had its scary moments what with a family of zombies slaughtering people and an underground facility filled with horrific creatures created to kill.
Some people did not like The Cabin in the Woods due to the radical twists but I thought it was brilliant. I was a fan of Joss before the film came out and seeing it only made me love him more. Ingenious, funny and scary, this is a cult classic in the making. While I would say this film is a must see, it is not for everybody. I would urge anybody that likes either horror films, dark comedies or Joss Whedon to see it. This is an A- film for me. Adding this to his outstanding repertoire, I can’t wait to see what Joss does next.
In the next month, NBC will be airing two new comedy shows. One is called Animal Practice, starring Weed’s Justin Kirk, and as the name suggests, is about an animal hospital. The other, Go On, stars Matthew Perry and is about a talk show host who is forced to join a support group. On two occasions now, NBC has premiered the pilot episodes of the shows and on two occasions I have watched them, finding one to be quite promising and one to be very disappointing.
The Promising One: Go On- I do not think Go On is a promising show just because Matthew Perry is in it (I am a huge Matthew Perry fan). I actually found the pilot to be quite amusing. Follow a structure that is reminiscent of NBC’s Community, the show focuses on sports talk show host Ryan King. After a tragic accident takes the life of his wife, Ryan is forced by his boss (Jon Cho) to take a couple of months off of work and join a local support group. The first day Ryan attends is a day that the group leader is late so Ryan takes things into his own hands. Creating a tournament to determine who in the group has the most tragic story, we are introduced to the group of insane characters that reminded me of Jeff Winger’s study group (from Community). We have the angry Anne (Julie White), the uncomfortably awkward Mr. K (Brett Gelman), the goodie-two-shoes Yolanda (Suzy Nakamura), the silent Owen (Tyler James Williams), Carrie (Allison Miller), the shy Sonia (Sarah Baker), the Spanish speaking Fausta (Tonita Castro), the unable to face the truth George (Bill Cobbs) and the old sick Danny (Seth Morris). Each member of the group adds a quirky personality with their own brand of humor and bringing them all together creates an environment that delivers joke after joke and many of them quite witty. Ryan King leads the group with an arrogance that Jeff Winger would be proud of, certain that he does not need to be there and certain that he can talk and lie his way in and out of anything. Seeming to have no morals and only focused on getting what he wants, Ryan eventually flirtatiously butts heads with the group’s real leader Lauren Schneider (Laura Benanti). Though he does not believe that he is one of them, Ryan eventually develops a soft spot for the dysfunctional group and goes out of his way to help the group find happiness, much like Jeff Winger at the end of many Community episodes (have I beat the comparison to death yet?). Though the episode wasn’t perfect, I see a lot of potential in this show and hope that it can find its footing to become a hit.
The Disappointing One: Animal Practice- I was very happy to hear that Justin Kirk was being given his own show. He has a sense of humor that could easily carry a comedy show, if it is done right. The first big mistake Kirk made was signing onto a show on Network television. Those who know Justin Kirk know him for the raunchy, witty rants he launches into on Showtime’s Weeds but now, Kirk is being censored. Jokes on NBC can be raunchy but nowhere near the caliber they should be for the brand of humor Kirk has become known for. The other problem I have with the show is the set up in general. It has become clear that we have run out of ideas for funny doctor shows because setting a show in a hospital for animals that looks like it was made for people creates a stale, cliché environment. The main character of the show, Justin Kirk, is an arrogant but outstanding animal doctor who understands animals perfectly but has trouble relating to and understanding humans. A divorced man working under his ex-wife’s husband, George Coleman (Justin Kirk) has assembled his own team of animal doctors and believes he is next in line to run the hospital. Coleman’s world is rocked when he is not asked to take over the hospital and the job is actually given to his ex-wife, Dorothy Rutledge (JoAnne Garcia Swisher). Along with his team of doctors, Doug Jackson (Tyler Labine), Juanita (Kym Whitley), Dr. Yamamoto (Bobby Lee), Angela (Betsy Sodaro) and Dr. Rizzo (Krystal the Monkey, yes an actual monkey), Coleman must deal with the thought of working with and under his ex-wife. For a show to feel stale after just one episode is not a good sign for its future. Some of the characters on the show are amusing; Angela and Doug Jackson in particular, but the styles of humor coming from the characters don’t mesh. Overall I believe that the concept around this show is better suited for a show geared towards children and, while I wanted Justin Kirk’s show to be great, I don’t think Animal Practice will last very long on the air.