Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Cabin In The Woods Review (2012)

Jock? Check. Slut/geek/virgin/intellectual? Total check. Yep, it looks like the directorial debut for Drew Goddard (Lost, Cloverfield) and co-writer Joss Whedon (Avengers Assemble, Buffy The Vampire Slayer) have nailed the classic teen horror franchise in their sleep – possibly between more time consuming projects. If you’ve seen the trailer however, you’ll have a hint that not all is what it seems. If you’ve actually seen the movie, then all bets are off. This is where if you haven’t seen the movie, step away from the review and come back when you have. Go on. Right, now we’re alone (wait, have you stopped reading?! You there, with the face! GO!) Let’s get to it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, curious reader…

So The Cabin in the Woods – from the outset does exactly what it says in the title. There’s a group of attractive all American college kids ready to embark on a break from studying to drink, smoke and take part in illicit consensual acts in a remote cabin, in the woods. Of course the road to the cabin is dusty, and the further these horny teens get to their destination the further from civilization they part. There’s even a hostile hillbilly hick waiting for them at what appears to be an abandoned gas station, primed to warn them of possible terrors heading their way. So far, cut, copy and paste any number of teen slashers out there over the past 30 years.

What makes The Cabin in the Woods so darn entertaining though is not the horror, though the jumps are well marked and well received, or the fact that we think we know what to expect. The entertainment comes from a place where this flic is pure satirical entertainment, completely self-aware and tongue in cheek, but at no point does the tone become self-deprecating or farcical, like say, most horrors out there. It pays great homage to cult classics of yonder too - many over the top references to Evil Dead have no problem slapping you in the face with a cold, very much alive, dead severed hand.

The writing duo really aren’t trying to scare you, but rather employ tried and tested tactics to prove that as cinema goers, we buy into a certain hype, be it blockbusters (hello Whedon’s Avengers) comedies (American Pie: The Reunion) or rom-coms (The Five Year Engagement). We like to know what we’re getting ourselves into. We like to be proven right. But every once in a while, it’s beyond refreshing to be shown that there’s still fun, surprises and different ways to re-tell tried and tested stories that bring a smile and satisfaction to those happy to hang out with the sticky multiplex floor.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Never Let Me Go Review (2010)

Never Let Me Go, the bleak British drama stars Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield as three lost souls in search of who they are, and what they are, before their time is up.

Aesthetically mundane, American director Mark Romanek has nailed the drab English tone of this characteristically British story perfectly - the majority of the film set somewhere in the dank and miserably Midlands. Adapting Kazou Ishiguro’s novel for the screen is Alex Garland, who flits easily between teen angst and the sobering realisation that life, death, and everything in between happens very, very quickly. There's no rest bite when dealing with the heavily set themes, and by placing them directly in an all too familiar environment, it's an uncomfortable watch.

The love triangle between the three leads is played with such eloquence and tragedy, their existence is all the more heartbreaking. Carey Mulligan really excells in her role as Kathy, the slightest of looks defies a thousand emotions, and gives Knightley a run for her money, who does well as best friend Ruth. Garfield is perfectly cast as the meek Tommy, stuck between the two women and a destiny beyond any of their control.

What makes Never Let Me Go apt is it’s ability to thrust uncomfortable emotions into the forefront of conscious thought, rather than whisk them away into an unrealistic life affirming conclusion. Perhaps not one for the whole family, it's definitely worth a watch to remind us all how fleeting life really is.