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April 11, 2012


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Terry McCarty

If I recall correctly, Rex didn't enjoy THE WILD BUNCH either.

The Siren

"It's really enough, existentially, to make a beardless film critic start walking around muttering imprecations concerning monotheistic deities on a cracker."

No other comment, I just love that sentence.

Matt Miller

To be fair, his factual inaccuracies are REALLY egregious. And I'm no great spoilerphobe, but if the biggest star in the movie is a) uncredited and b) shows up in the last five minutes, giving away the identity of said cameo in your pan is inarguably poor form.

Glenn Kenny

Why thank you, Siren.

Matt, yes, the particular spoiler of which you complain IS poor-form stuff. But I look forward to the day we can talk about it without it being poor form, not least in part is that the actor in question ALSO shows up in the last five minutes of ANOTHER genre pastiche/parody (one I like BETTEr than "Cabin") and that's kinda weird.

Matt Miller

I look forward to having those conversations about the film too. Love it or hate it (or like it but express disdain for the core audience), there's plenty to talk about.

And regarding said cameo, I must admit that I was a little surprised at the level of surprise in my screening when the actor in question walked onscreen, considering the fact that their (very recognizable) voice had been heard delivering a lengthy monologue not 10 minutes earlier.


Well, just thank heavens Rex didn't make a TRULY inexcusable mistake. Like writing that one of the characters smoked a pipe.

That Fuzzy Bastard

I'm looking forward to seeing it for a great many reasons... I unapologetically worship the Buffy TV show (I actually think its self-consciousness edges it just above The Wire in the great TV crown), Fran Kranz turned out to be terrific in Dollhouse (though I dunno if he has enough time to reveal depths as he did there), and the premise is an utter hoot. Wells and Reed are never right about anything, so I sort of assume that Whedon has pulled off his usual miraculous trick of starting with extreme genre winking and proceeding to deepen reactions, little by little, until emotional buy-in works on you like a light-fingered thief who took your wallet while you were looking somewhere else.


I really enjoyed CABIN, and hearing that Mr. Wells panned it makes me enjoy it even more.

I also noticed that the surprise guest star had a similar cameo in another genre pastiche last year. Oddly enough, that same performer has virtually the same role in an upcoming young-lead espionage thriller as they had in a similar one last year.

Josh Z

In listing off all the movies that Lockout borrows from, I'm surprised that you neglected to mention perhaps the most obvious: Escape from New York. The trailers aren't even subtle about it.


I also recognized the WOODS guest star with their first voice-over appearance, but since said performer had a similar vocal-only role in a major animated film a few years back, I didn't assume we'd be seeing them onscreen.

As far as spoilers go, I don't know which is the biggest I've ever encountered - the review of SUPER 8 that told the nature of the antagonist in the opening sentence, or the capsule review of EAGLE EYE that openly revealed the nature of ITS antagonist, a very big twist.

Another nice thing about the WOODS twists is that they're pretty openly set up from the very first scene, so it's not like the film's impact depends on an out-of-nowhere second-half shocker.

Matt Miller

Yeah, CABIN's surprises aren't a twist as much as an unexpected escalation. Even the third act's best stuff is openly on the table in the first.

Robert Cashill

Kranz is also excellent in the DEATH OF A SALESMAN revival now on Broadway, playing Bernard, the son of Willy Loman's friend Charlie.


@That Fuzzy Bastard: I'm curious as to how its self-consciousness lifts Buffy in your estimation over The Wire, considering that quality is the one the anti-Whedon contingent use as exhibit A against him, that he's not just clever but well aware and proud of how clever he is, and that this is only exacerbated by the, erm, vocal nature of his fanbase. A couple years ago I went through a period of several months where I loved that show more than oxygen and food, but I find it a hard charge to refute. The problem is ameliorated somewhat by his emotional generosity and a skill with character dynamics that when he's really cooking reminds me of Hawks, but it remains, and makes it at times trying to be a non-blinkered fan of the guy. And I could spend hours cataloguing moments and elements of Buffy that irritate and disappoint me, whereas the only things I can hold against The Wire is the wonkiness of that last season, a few underwhelming minor performances, and its tendency to sporadically slip thesis statements into its dialogue in a way too close to the nose for my liking. Then again, the argument could perhaps be mounted that Buffy, for all its frustrating unevenness, has a commitment to metaphor and formal variety that makes it a more evocative text than The Wire, which with the exception of minor stuff like that recurring train track symbol, is stubbornly about exactly what it is about, a giant whodunnit where the "who" turns out in the end to be late capitalism, and any multitudes it contains are ultimately circumscribed by that one big idea.

Jaime N. Christley

As a possibly heretic Whedonite, I don't side with those that take whole series - even whole seasons - of his shows as great, masterful Texts, but I do grant that status to THE WIRE. There are episodes of BUFFY that rank with the worst television of all time ("Beer Bad" is arguably the nadir of everything he's ever been connected with), but others (in particular the episodes he personally wrote and directed) that rank with the best - that's how it is. I've no problem with the declaration "THE WIRE is a masterpiece" but individual episodes don't stand out as much as tiny moments and larger arcs, including the one that encompasses the whole season. Not coincidentally, that's also how I feel about THE SHIELD.

Aden Jordan

Sharp review, Glenn. The premise and writing in "The Cabin in the Woods" are clever, but the ending and its big reveal are a bit of a let-down (the filmmakers could have come up with something more compelling or better yet surprising). Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford are both excellent in the film, and their witty performances really elevate the quality of the film. Jenkins has been riding a very well-deserved wave of film roles and attention from critics for the past few years, and hopefully this film brings more of those quality roles and offers to Mr. Whitford.


Never got the vitriolic Beer Bad hate. More a parody of ridiculous afterschool specials than the actual ridiculous afterschool special people seem to take it as, though maybe not a good parody (OK, absolutely not a good parody). There are episodes in that season I dislike more, let's put it that way.

That Fuzzy Bastard

@ JF: Well, for me it's because Buffy's self-consciousness provided it with better internal tools for dealing with some of the shortcuts television imposes. The Wire was incredibly insistent on its own realism, which meant that every time events were rushed (Herc's arc), stupid jokes were thrown in (McNulty's S2 threesome, which is just totally unforgivable), or characters were unbelievable (Brother Mouzone), it really yanked me out of the show, and made me question all the other, more believable elements. But because Buffy was willing and able to throw in asides like "Good thing no one ever checks these books out of the library, huh?", it was much easier to roll with the necessary contrivances, since it was a show that acknowledged and accepted its own necessary stylization. The Wire is a great, great show, but it often seems churlishly unwilling to be narrative fiction, which is a problem Buffy never had, and that's why the former is more glorious and the latter is (for me) better.


TFB - I have no problem with the self-consciousness of Buffy, but to me, the show lost a lot of ground starting with Season 4 (though it rallied somewhat by the end of that season), Season 5 was undone by the loss of much of its humor and by the glaring miscasting of the main villain (if, say, Serena Scott Thomas, so good as the psychotic Watcher Gwendolyn Post in that Season 3 episode, had played Glory instead of the insipid Clare Kramer, it would have been a truly memorable season, I think), and most importantly, except for a couple of episodes here and there, Seasons 6 and 7 were a complete train wreck - I don't want to completely derail the thread, but seriously, "magic addiction" and the pairing of Spike and Buffy still send me round the bend.

Okay, topic. First, obligatory smart-ass comment; so Joss' burning ambition all this time was to remake FUNNY GAMES. Who knew? Secondly, I liked it - if for nothing else it had me wondering what would have happened to Bradley Whitford's career if Whedon had gotten hold of him and not Sorkin (and I say that as a big fan of Whitford on The West Wing) - but I did find the last 15-20 minutes or so way over the top.


Glenn Kenny is an idiot! He can't write an intelligent paragraph worth TRYING to read! Get a life,dude!!!


"Get a life,dude!!!"
--Mike, to whom irony is Greek

Josh Z

"What the movie finally is, then, is a diversion: a reasonably smart and exceptionally well-constructed one. And nothing more."

I'll agree with that summation. The movie is fun, but (without going into spoilers) I was disappointed that it seemed on several occasions to set up a last-minute plot twist and then not bother to follow through with it. The ultimate conclusion felt to me like a hastily-rewritten cop-out.

For perspective, I am a Whedon fan, especially a big Buffy fan, though not what you would call a slavering fanboy. I have no enthusiasm whatsoever for The Avengers, for example. Take that for what it's worth.

Dan Coyle

I'm of the opinion that St. Joss hasn't produced anything of worth since the Serenity film (Which remains one of my favorite movies of the past decade), so take this with a grain of salt, and MILD SPOILERS:

I liked Cabin... at first. Then the plot holes started piling up embarassingly badly in the final act, and the characters were so underdeveloped the ending felt unearned. Whedon and Goddard might argue that's the point, but the thing is, it's ultimately as smug, nihilistic and shallow as the very thing it's loudly patting itself on the back for deconstructing.

Bizarrely, Fran Kranz, an actor I've never had time for, and one I've hated Whedon (and Jake Kasdan) for inflicting on us for the past few years, came off pretty well despite being saddled with such a stock character. There was nothing really interesting or different about him, but Kranz got laughs out of me.

Why is that kill switch there? And what could its use possibly be for? Why are the protocols for when the kill switch is pressed so laughably ineffective? Why weren't there cameras in that one area where that one character was dragged? (this is where the movie really breaks down; this "cabin" is so perfect and well run... except when the plot needs it not to be) Why wasn't the surprise guest star's character armed or otherwise prepared for what needed to be done? Why is it heavily implied that the "Cabin" may have been sabotaged then that angle is completely forgotten? This is where I think Josh Z is right about the last minute rewrites.

On the other hand, holding it against the rest of the current movie landscape, it actually tries to surprise the audience, even if it's by totally jerking them around and manipulating them... just like the "cabin"! Whoa! META!

Bruce Reid

(Vague, but spoilers)

I greatly admire Whedon, but one thing he and his crew have botched repeatedly since getting it so right at the end of Buffy season 2 is forcing characters to choose between personal attachment or saving the world. Their reflex leap to the first option never comes off as much more than petulant, lacking either gothic grandeur or the punkish, fatalistic kick of Carpenter. No difference here.

And I'm genuinely surprised more people aren't pointing out how very not scary the film is. Whitford and Jenkins are terrific, but constantly cutting back to their another-day-in-the-office shtick really drains the frights of any genuine menace. But as a comedy about horror movies, not the horror-movie-eating-itself some have claimed, I found it pretty enjoyable.

As for the cameo, always wonderful to see her and I get the connection with Whedon, but she had to be the backup after Curtis passed, right?

Dan Coyle

Bruce: exactly. A friend said, "Look, they were put through hell all night, of course they'd do that!" yeah, but they'd seen such horrific things, wouldn't it have been interesting for them to have debated it a bit? Of course, Whedon and Goddard had been stacking the deck, since the day at the office stuff is meant to back things up, but... did the "villains" really have much of a choice? Whedon and Goddard set up a situation rife with possbility and nuance then filter it through a teenager's lens.

Joe Gross

I am not a horror movie guy, for the most part, I quite enjoyed "Cabin" and thought the torture porn critique stuff was pretty good and very Whedon, but now I am curious:
Give me three-to-five movies from the past, oh, 20 years that you found genuinely scary and tell me WHY, specifically, you found them scary.


Well, you said last 20 years, so:

(1) AUDITION: If the bag moving was enough to give me the heebie-jeebies, the last 30 minutes or so of the movie were more frightening than the last 30 minutes or so of Cronenberg's THE FLY - and that's saying a lot. ("kirikirikirikiri"...shudder).
(2) LET THE RIGHT ONE IN: Tomas Alfredson has some gory scenes, but depends on what you don't see as much, particularly in the best scene in the movie, the pool scene. Also, Lina Leandersson is cree-py.
(3) SPLICE: Maybe not a horror movie in the strictest sense, but despite some narrative lapses, this mad scientist movie offers two monsters - Sarah Polley's character as well as her "creation", Dren - and when the latter goes through all of its changes, ooh boy, watch out.

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