Seen: At the Capitol Theatre in Arlington.
Oh heyyy so that Joss Whedon guy everyone's always talking about has a new movie or whatever. No not that superhero thing, that OTHER thing he made with Drew Goddard! Yeah. The Cabin in the Woods, re-inventing the horror genre/exposing its inner workings, no big deal. As you've probably heard from every other person talking about this movie, it's pretty hard to discuss without giving spoilers, so for those who haven't seen it I'll just say that it's a pretty awesome movie and you should see it! It's not too scary, don't worry, it's mostly smart and funny with a few scary parts. So uh, ALL THE SPOILERS AHEAD, etc.
Five college friends head out to an isolated cabin for some swimming, sunning, and sexytimes. They all fit some stereotype, sort of. There's the hot blonde (Anna Hutchison) (recently dyed from brunette) and her beefy boyfriend (Chris Hemsworth), a nice dude studying sociology. There's the shy "virgin" (Kristen Connolly) who'd rather study than be set up with Holden (Jesse Williams), a polite "scholar". Along for the trip is Marty (Fran Kranz), a paranoid pothead who also happens to be right about most things. In a bizarre twist the whole plot turns out to be administrated by a mysterious group of office drones who manipulate the kids into acting out a horror movie and getting viciously killed. Their blood is sacrificed to old gods who would rise up in destruction of the whole world if not placated with sacrifices every year. So. It's a little more complicated that you think, really.
This is indeed a really fun dig at horror movie tropes, in a way that's so blatant as to be quite smart. It's laced with Whedonesque dialogue and silly characters, combined with punchy editing and understated gore. The effects aren't great, as I assume there wasn't a huge budget here, but the CG stuff is mostly shot in the dark and by the time there's cause for lots of effects there's too much going on to really bother about the quality. Though there's great attention to character, the filmmakers aren't married to anyone and like a truly good horror movie all lives are definitely expendable. The ending is awesomely insane in a hilarious bloodbath kind of way.
It's not perfect- sometimes the "puppeteering" stuff is a bit heavy-handed, and there's not enough Amy Acker- but for the most part I loved it. Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins are having a grand olde time as the dudes in charge of the whole horror movie operation, and it's fun to watch these not-so-stupid kids try to figure out a way around this horrific ritual. Plus I like apocalyptic endings. And it totally makes fun of sexism and the male gaze! Yay!
Pair This Movie With: My first thought is Tucker & Dale vs Evil since that movie rules and it also plays with the conventions of "college kids in the woods" slasher movies. Or Evil Dead/Evil Dead II since this movie references those a few times. OR the Fright Night remake, which I quite enjoyed, and has a Joss Whedon connection through screenwriter Marti Noxon!