Sunday 11 November 2012

Double Bill Mini Musings: Woods & Dogs...

The Cabin in the Woods:
What's it about?
Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon's love/hate letter to the horror genre was originally made in 2009, but due to MGM's financial troubles at the time, it was shelved until 2012 for release. Five good-looking college kids head off to the woods for a fun weekend, but where do a bunch of shady button-pushers in an underground bunker fit in?
Who would I recognise in it?
Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, and ... well, that would be telling.
It's hard to talk about this movie without spoiling it - but the trailer gives most of the game away as it is (although not the entire game, one should note). In a cabin rather reminiscent of that in Sam Raimi's seminal 1981 horror milestone The Evil Dead, there are all sorts of nasty surprises just waiting to be discovered.

Click "READ MORE" below to see if this flick's any cop, and whether the Straw Dogs remake has any teeth...
Meanwhile, in a secret concrete complex - linked to various other such institutions around the globe - apparent everyday office drones go about their business, which just so happens to involve spy cameras that observe every move that these college kids make. It was trumpeted by some as being a game changer for the horror genre, but it's not - Scream was a game changer, The Blair Witch Project was a game changer, Saw/Hostel were game changers as their impact influenced the direction of the genre for years - however, Goddard & Whedon's flick is a bloody enjoyable and original spin on a well-worn genre.

Horror nerds, particularly those with a penchant for ... well, that would be telling ... will particularly have a lot of fun in store for them. Good, bordering on great.

Fun fact, the special make-up effects were supplied by AFX Studio, which is co-run by Heather L. Anderson ... the "L" stands for Langenkamp ... yes, that Heather Langenkamp.

Straw Dogs (2011):
What's it about?
Rod Lurie's remake of Sam Peckinpah's controversial 1971 siege thriller relocates the action to Mississippi, where screenwriter David Sumner and his actress wife Amy return to her rural home town roots so he can finish writing his screenplay about Stalingrad. Despite the surface pleasantries, there lies a dark heart within some members of the community - including Amy's high school boyfriend.
Who would I recognise in it?
James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgard, James Woods, Dominic Purcell, Anson Mount.
Pasting in all the key moments from the original, there's nothing of any surprise here for those familiar with Peckinpah's superior film - yep, unsurprisingly, this remake feels pretty pointless. It was done far better forty years prior, with far more shocking brutality and memorable style than this glossy retread. All the plot beats, character motivations, and more are present, but crucially they lack the intensity or moral ambiguities of Peckinpah's strangle-hold original. It hangs together well enough for the uninitiated to appreciate what's going on - with many game performances on offer - but its simply an inferior photocopy when all is said and done. There are interesting flourishes scattered throughout - such as a brief conversation about whether Amy's skimpy, sweat-soaked, bra-less outfit is cause-or-not for the lustful gaze of the local men folk working on their barn roof - but it's too little to make the journey worthwhile. Without a doubt, stick with the 1971 flick starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George. This 2011 remake is alright, but pointless.

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