Knee-jerk review: "Cabin in the Woods"

1. Wow.
2. As you may have heard, it's hard to talk about Cabin in the Woods without spoiling the big third act secret.  But we will tell you the answer is right there in the opening credits if you know where to look.
3. We hate to use the word "genius"... but the conceit of this movie is audaciously original.  We've seen nothing else like it.  And it works.
4. In short, we pretty much loved it.
5. Stoner guy Marty, played by Fran Krantz, steals the movie with his metal thermos bong.
6. Writer-director Drew Goddard, part of the J.J. Abrams mafia, also wrote Cloverfield, one of our all-time favorites.  He's now officially on our radar.
7. There are scary "gotcha!" moments, sure, but it's really more of an academic deconstruction of the American slasher film - namely, those predictable and formulaic movies where good-looking 20-somethings visit an isolated lake, make dumb choices, and meet gruesome ends.  But because of the way the movie so openly upends the cliches of the genre (a distant cousin may be Scream), the horror is kept at arm's length.  That is, you'll spend more time working to understand why what's happening is happening and less time covering your eyes.
8. Honestly, the preceding trailer we saw of Chernobyl Diaries was way more chilling and creepy than this movie.
9. We'll say it again: the final 15 minutes here are so crazy that you won't believe they're actually committing to it.
10. Merman.
11. In addition to the smart post-modern breakdown of horror tropes and motifs (what are thee $10 words? is this a dumb blog or a pretentious film studies class?), the movie also has some interesting things to say about religion .  Note the scene where no one pays any attention to the suffering going on behind them.  Administrators and managers - like, say, God - may or may not care about your little problems.
12. Which are you: the scholar, the athlete, the fool, the whore, or the virgin?
13. Seriously, you could write a decent film theory paper about the way this movie examines the horror movie formula.
14. Okay, we give up - it is genius.  There, we said it.

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