Cabin in the Woods has been the subject of much talk here on Screened over the past few days. Partly because the review for it has cracked the site apart, but also because the movie is just that freaking good. But from the remains of the cracked open Screened, we Screenonauts (trying it out) have come together to decide we will help rebuild it. So I'm going to do my part by trying out a new feature I'd like to start doing regularly, where I take a recent film that has sparked the interest of audiences and make a recommendation on what else might be up your alley.
To start this feature off I'm going to choose Cabin in the Woods, which opened this weekend to rave reviews from critics and filmgoers alike. We all know by now I can't really divulge too much information about the movie, but I can at least point out the key features of the movie, the reasons why people love this movie.
There is so much more that could be said about this movie, but this feature is for the folks who have already seen it, so why do I need to tell you how great the movie was? You already saw it, some of you more than once by now. No I'm here to say that if you loved this movie, and want another movie to help keep your witty meta horror lust at bay, then why not try a little film that came out last year that didn't get nearly the attention it deserved. The movie I'm speaking of is of course (say it with me cool kids) Tucker and Dale Versus Evil.
Let's take a look at how exactly these two films match up with each other. Cabin in the Woods takes the classic story about a group of college students who travel up to the woods where they are haunted by an evil from within the woods that kills them off one by one. Tucker and Dale Vs Evil takes the classic story about a group of college students who travel up to the woods where they are killed off one by one by a group of hillbillies. God I love the classics, can't beat em. However, the great thing about both of these films is that it takes each of these concepts that we've seen over and over and puts a totally different twist on it. In Cabin we see that (spoiler spoiler spoiler seriously stop reading this if you haven't seen it spoiler) a secret organization is controlling these college students, altering them and revealing why it is that so many horror movies have the same group of college students and have them dying in the same order. To say that this paints all horror flicks in a new light is like saying "Twilight is a tad misogynistic." However this isn't the only movie to pull a trick like that, Tucker and Dale took the story of killer hillbillies, and told it from the hillbillies' point of view. In this movie Tucker and Dale are just a couple of good old boys who wanted to go up to the woods and fish, maybe do some widdlin if they have the time. But much to their chagrin they are attacked by a horde of "goddamn stupid college kids" who keep killing themselves by accident. It's rare that we get a film these days that takes a movie concept or story we've seen so many times before and twist it in a way we wouldn't expect, but to get two films of such high quality within two years of each other is a reason to celebrate
There's a big difference between a Film Fan and a Film Geek. Film Fans love going to the movies, but Film Geeks love going to the movies and then discussing what they've seen over and over again until they've come up with twenty different theories about what they just saw. And that is why so many people here on Screened flat out loved Cabin in the Woods, it broke down almost everything about those horror films that we as Film Geeks knew by heart about the genre. (once again, spoilers) Why do the teenagers who go off to have sex always die first? Why is it that the Virgin is always the last one alive? Why does a bookworm always seem to hang out with a jock? All the great mysteries of life are acknowledged and explained in this movie. Throw in the countless Easter Eggs in the background (literally, they're countless, I tried to count them and it can't be done) and you have a true Film Geek movie. Now, Tucker and Dale are in the same Film Geeky Boat, they take the formula of the slasher film and flip the script in so many ways I didn't even catch them all until the second time I saw it. The way it sets up things like the origin of the serial killer and turns that on the college kids is so well thought out it's simply impressive. And if you want to really see how much work was put into crafting the story, pick up the DVD and watch the special feature on there that shows what the movie looks like from the college kid's point of view, it really makes you understand how these kids actually would have thought Tucker and Dale were crazy backwoods killers.
You can't just make a movie that sucks up to Film Geeks by saying "hey we know all the same things you know, we notice all those weird things you like, please enjoy our movie." You have to give us some wit, some clever dialogue and funny one liners. Well Cabin in the Woods had the writing power of Joss Whedon behind it, but it also had some great back and forth between various characters including Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford, as well as Fran Kranz and pretty much everyone else in the movie. In fact this movie had some of the best back and forth since... oh hey look at that, Tucker and Dale. Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk play the title characters of this film and they have one of the best bromances I've seen in a movie (I don't even like using the word "bromance" but I use it here because that's how good it was) and it's simply because of the great interactions between the two of them. There were so many small subtle bits of physical acting between the two that would crack me up, and those are some of the hardest jokes to make work.
So for those of you who just came back from Cabin in the Woods and went "man that's so great, wish I could see it again right now," well then you should... well actually you should probably go see it again because it didn't do all that great at the box office and needs your support. But if you can't afford another full price ticket, then lucky for you Tucker and Dale Versus Evil is currently streaming on Netflix and it is well worth your time.