REVIEW: Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods
Directed by: Drew Goddard
Written by: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (screenplay)
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz and Anna Hutchison

Slasher films are just realistic slapstick with uglier, less funny comedians.  Whack someone over the head, and if they don’t bleed it’s funny; if they do, it’s terrifying.  Since Wes Craven clued teenagers in on the gruesome joke in Scream, countless conceptual spin-offs (many made by Craven in increasingly meta sequels) have emerged from the over-done ashes of a seemingly dead genre.

Cabin in the Woods takes meta horror one step further, first by taking the dead teenager scenario, spinning it on its head and then almost taking the spin-off seriously.  When it works, and it often does, it’s an innovative in-joke that makes the audience feel smart even if it is rather simple.  Five slasher stereotypes- the jock, the brains, the whore, the moron the virgin- venture to the cabin of the title for a vacation away from technology.  They are warned away from doing it by an ominous gas station attendee, but of course decide to go.  Then, they are subsequently slaughtered one by one.

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REVIEW: Scream 4

Scream 4
Directed by: Wes Craven
Written by: Kevin Williamsen (screenplay)
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, Emma Roberts, and David Arquette

Scream 4 makes you wonder what other veteran directors would do if they were offered the chance to comment on the modern state of their respective genres.  How would Alfred Hitchcock approach Hanna?  How would Billy Wilder tackle Your Highness?

Sadly, instead of real filmmakers taking a stab at the confines of their own genres, we get films like the Scary Movie franchise, which set out to mock, scored a few laughs in the first few films, and then became a mockery.  The state of modern movies is just that: movies unintentionally mocking their genres, so much so that it may be hard for many in a modern audience to realize Scream 4 is doing it intentionally.

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If they were in television… Wes Craven

Notable films: Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, Red Eye

Famous for: Horror with American allegory, heavy amounts of blood and gore, genre subversion, self-aware horror, torturing a female lead and sometimes letting her live.

Hypothetical title: Euro

Hypothetical premise: Honors student Jane is in the transitional summer between high school or college and has just been informed that her job at the ice cream station has been terminated because it is going out of business.  With absolutely nothing tying her down, she decides to fly to Europe for the summer with her two best friends.  This is set up in the first few episodes.

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