Sunday, April 22, 2012

cabin in the woods

Jason has patented the “bring the right glasses” theory. For those of you who have forgotten what this is let me give you the gist, movie=expectations=mental preparation=optimum enjoyment. I think we all do this from time to time, I also think that we decide what films to try to like and what films to dismiss beforehand. For example, I wanted THE DARK KNIGHT to be a masterpiece therefore I forgave its third act. I didn’t want to like THE HUNGER GAMES so I went in ready to spot its faults and ignore its strengths. Great films can overcome this handicap. Good films usually fall victim to cynicism.

There is no need to rehash our intense brawl about “hipster horror” or “meaning” ;) but it’s hard not to address some of those discussions when talking about the newest FILM CLUB usurper CABIN IN THE WOODS. I am surprised that this film was so divisive though the more I think about it the more I believe that we are all pretty much in agreement about certain aspects of the film. I also believe that everyone had a good time despite their better judgment. I think John liked watching this movie but had a change of heart and I won’t tell you what I am suspecting is the thorn in his side to avoid WWIII.

The main reason I liked Whedon and Godard’s film so much was the constant sense of humor. I laughed more at this film than 90% of the comedies from the last 10 maybe 15 years. I wouldn’t call this one a spoof but it certainly teeters, the only thing keeping it from SHAUN OF THE DEAD territory were blasts of disturbing content though I think it was Adrienne who pointed out that almost all slasher films, especially the “so good its bad” ones are borderline comedy. I can’t fault a film for being clever and perhaps drawing attention to its creators. I pictured them both smoking a roach and laughing their asses off at the little girl’s diary or the merman. They are obviously having fun a la homage and I found it easy to have fun with them.

I’m still struggling with the whole “walked away unchanged” complaint. I would argue that most films don’t “change” us but perhaps remind us or fortify our predisposed sentiments. I think it’s great for films like CABIN to exist because they exist for hard working stiffs like me to kick back and enjoy an hour and change at the theater. I had a great time. Graham hit the bowl before the show and argued that this picture is actually a far better “stoner” movie than most “stoner” movies. This quest for meaning seems futile and unreasonable and it seems that it often leads to a general view that certain types of films belong up here while others get thrown in the disregard pile. I feel the same way about certain musical genres for example the more melodies and glockenspiels a band has the more they are associated with “art” while dirty bloody punk/hardcore bands get dismissed as junk.

I’m getting off the track here. Without the company men the film would be merely disposable, Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford added that new dimension to elevate it to the cult status that it seems destined to achieve. That status will inevitably tempt the haters and contrarians to rain the parade but that comes with the territory. It seems that gushing does this picture no favors so it’s best to tread lightly with the superlatives. The film is not, to these eyes, groundbreaking or even game changing so I think those champions are doing the film a disservice in a sense as a: they are inviting some rowdy objection from some otherwise potential fans and b: they are setting the bar too high for those less cantankerous patrons.

I agree with Jason here: “Why I think Whedon's film could be important is because it's been marketed to a much wider audience that the other two films I mentioned, and has the potential to reveal to a much wider audience some of what us long-suffering horror fans have known all along: horror is awesome.” It’s interesting that CABIN could be a gateway drug to other horror films because I went to see it with my friend Graham, a non-fan to say the least, and he walked out smiling ear to ear. I can see why some would find this annoying as the film undoubtedly seeks to please a much wider demographic but I guess I was just happy to have a good time with my friend. You can probably call this a populist film and not lose sleep but I think it doesn’t compromise its spirit in the process, the light stuff works as well as the disturbing stuff (husband’s bulge anyone?).

I liked how the company men had to manipulate the college kid’s personalities to make them fit the sacrificial lamb criteria/slasher film prototype. I thought the five kids were good characters; I rooted for them to survive. I didn’t find them douchey nor did I feel that the “purge” sequence contained torture. It was just massive bloodshed all done in a “wink wink I know this is ridiculous but just go with it” way. I can understand not liking that part of the movie but I have to admit that I was laughing fairly loud during the elevator gag. I was also disappointed by the third act but I’m entertaining the notion that I just missed the other characters and specifically their cohesive dynamic. I liked the jock (I laughed so hard at the dirt bike scene) and was relieved to find out that he is actually a sociology major with a full scholarship. In this way I was impressed by the whole “deconstruction” facet.

The punch line isn’t as good as the setup, I’ll give you that. But all in all this is a good time at the movies. Hopefully there is still some room for debate/discussion here. I’m sorry I came in so late. A-

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