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.
You better be sure you wanna know what you wanna know- Kara
This week’s Netflix film is a detective noir film that is quickly becoming a cult classic. The film Brick, written and directed by the mind behind Looper Rian Johnson, is a modern day detective story following the structure and theme of classic film and literature. The film’s principle mystery is a murder but what is unique about it is it takes the classic detective film and puts it into High School.
I’m going to try and simplify the fairly complicated plot into only a few paragraphs. In this story, our loner detective is student Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon Levitt). Brendan is a sad and lonely young man after being dumped by his girlfriend Emily Kostich (Emilie de Ravin) and turning his friend into the authorities. After receiving a mysterious, panicked call from Emily asking for help, Brendan uses the leader of her group of stoner friends Dode (Noah Segan) to get in contact with her. Denying everything she said on the phone, Brendan steals her notebook. Following an odd symbol in it, Brendan finds Emily’s dead body and takes it upon himself to solve her murder.
Brendan’s search puts him directly in the middle of a drug war. After hearing Emily say “the Pin” on the phone, Brendan figures out that the Pin is in fact a person. Brendan meets with the Pin, a drug dealer, to try and figure out why Emily was murdered. While it takes him a while to uncover anything of consequence, Brendan eventually learns that Emily’s death may have had to do with a shipment of heroin bricks, a shipment in which one brick was missing. As Brendan continues to pry he meets Laura (Nora Zehetner), a woman who at first seems innocent, and Tugger (Noah Floeiss), the Pin’s violent and angry muscle. Working himself to the bone, Brian stops sleeping and puts himself in harms way to solve the murder. As a drug war blossoms around him, Brendan needs to determine who he trusts, avoid having Emily’s murder pinned on him and stay away from an increasing number of people that are trying to harm him all while solving a murder.
This film stemmed from Johnson’s obsession with classic detective stories, especially Dashiell Hammett. This film was a brilliant example of film noir. Dark and gritty, the film was well written and though it was somewhat complicated, the plot wasn’t difficult to follow. What I loved about this film was the fact that it was a hard boiled detective story but most of the characters are High Schoolers. Joseph Gordon Levitt is perfect as the loner detective, putting everything he has into the case even at the expense of his own health. While he is connected with other groups in the school, it is obvious that Brendan keeps to himself. A conversation with the school’s principal further solidifies Brendan as a private detective character. It becomes clear that Brendan has, reluctantly, helped the principal solve a case. The dynamic is such that Brendan is a private detective that helps the police, the school administration when they need it but is not a member of the police force. The film is a true hard-boiled detective noir film, from the vocabulary to the characters to the story that was brilliantly adapted to a High School setting with High School characters.
It is my opinion that Rian Johnson has a great career in front of him. I thought Looper was brilliant and now, after seeing Brick, understand the man’s true talent. With a great script and a great director, Joseph Gordon Levitt is perfectly cast. Now, if you don’t like film noir this might not be the movie for you. For film noir fans, like me, I give this film a 9 out of 10 and highly recommend it.