THE CABIN IN THE WOODS-United States-2012
Kristen Connolly as Dana
Anna Hutchison as Jules
Jesse Williams as Holden
Directed by Drew Goddard
Written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
The Cabin in the Woods is a highly entertaining film that pays homage to teen slasher films, the zombie genre and the works of H.P. Lovecraft and it does it all with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Kristen Connolly (The Happening, Mona Lisa Smile) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) are part of a group of teenagers on a road trip to a weekend getaway to the titular cabin. Little do they know that everything they do is a part of an elaborately controlled scenario that is itself a part of an even larger scenario. The five are the puppets and the many, led by a hilariously smart-ass Bradley Whitford (TV’s The West Wing) and a dependable as always Richard Jenkins (Let Me In, The Visitor) are the puppeteers. Think of the whole thing as a ‘choose your own adventure’ where you have no choice and that can kill you in the manner of your choosing. If it sounds confusing I can assure you that once you see the film you’ll understand.
The Cabin in the Woods is directed by Drew Goddard, who co-wrote the screenplay along with Joss Whedon. Goddard was the guy who wrote Cloverfield and some cool episodes of Lost. Whedon is the guy who gave us Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and is the screenwriter for the upcoming summer blockbuster The Avengers; which will feature Hemsworth in a reprisal of his role as Thor.
Toward the end, what impressed me the most about The Cabin in the Woods was the clear display of love that Goddard and Whedon have for the old school scary monsters. It was akin to watching two kids playing with all their super cool action figures and it left me with a smile on my face as I left the theater. You can’t ask for any better than that.
One more thing; look for an extended cameo from a very well-known star. I’ll give you a hint: she’s battled monsters many times in her day.
Shot in 2009, but not released until 2012.
The film’s release date was postponed because the studio wanted to convert it to 3D, despite objections from Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. These plans were eventually scrapped, and the film was released only in 2D.
LET ME IN-United States-2010
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen
Chloe Grace Moretz as Abby
Richard Jenkins as The Father
Elias Koteas as The Policeman
Screenplay by Matt Reeves
Before I give you my review for Let Me In, I want to give you my take on the attitude that Hollywood has in general about remaking foreign films. Now, this is going to date me to no end, but how many of you remember the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man? Okay, well, the show was about this test pilot named Steve Austin (no, not the wrestler), who gets into this horrible plane crash and is then rebuilt with a bionic eye, arm and leg so that he can go around solving crimes and kicking butt for the OSI (Office of Special Intelligence). At the beginning of the show you always heard Richard Anderson as Oscar Goldman saying “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.”
That quote from that show is how I see Hollywood when it comes to remakes. They take a foreign film and they lay it out on the operating table and some bigwig executive who knows as much about movies as I know about the female menstrual cycle (nothing at all) says, “Gentlemen, we can remake this movie. We have the writers. We have the directors. We have the money to make a movie far greater than this piece of subtitled hodgepodge could ever hope to be. We will make a movie that will be better in every way.”
Now, I told you that so I could tell you this: Let Me In is not that type of movie. When director Matt Reeves laid it out on the table he didn’t see a film that he could improve upon. He looked at and thought, “Why do I need to make a better film? This film is already perfect in every way. It’s a horror movie that transcends its very genre. I don’t want to make a better film. I want to make a film that I can be proud of.”
So, that’s what he did. He took two of the best young actors working in film, Chloe Grace-Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee, and paired them with two of the most reliable performers in Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas; and he made a vampire film that draws favorable comparison to its foreign big sister, Let the Right One In. Reeves and crew bring the story of Owen and Abby (Oskar and Eli in LtROI) to American audiences without compromising the intelligence of the original film. It’s an achievement they can, and should be, very proud of.
The word “vampire” is only said once in the film.
Director Matt Reeves modeled the physical appearance and personality of Abby (Chloë Grace Moretz) after seeing photos of a 12-year old homeless girl taken by Mary Ellen Mark. Moretz said the sadness of her character was decided on by her and Reeves after seeing the photos.
Despite being asked twice by Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Abby (Chloë Grace Moretz) never reveals her true age.
The trash bag that Richard Jenkins wears over his head in the murder scenes was the actor’s idea.
THE BROKEN-France/United Kingdom-93 Mins. 2008
Directed by Sean Ellis
Written by Sean Ellis
Lena Headey as Gina McVey
Ulrich Thomsen as Dr. Robert Zachman
Richard Jenkins as John McVey
Melvil Poupaud as Stefan Chambers
Lena Headey stars in The Broken; a film that was a part of the 3rd annual After Dark Horrorfest series. Headey stars as Gina McVey, a successful radiologist. One day, she sees a woman drive past her who is an exact duplicate of herself. She pursues the woman and is involved in a head-on collision that puts her in the hospital. When she comes to, she has no recollection of what happened in the accident. She goes to live with her boyfriend while she recovers. She notices, as does his dog, that he does not quite seem like himself. Gina conveys this belief to her therapist and he tells her that she may be suffering from Capgras’ Syndrome. This is a rare disease in which a person believes that a close friend or relative has been replaced by an exact double. The film goes from psychological to supernatural thriller and back again quite often. Is Gina hallucinating? Are her friends being replaced by duplicates? Is she being replaced by a duplicate? These questions are answered throughout the course of the film.
The Broken borrows quite a bit from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It also relies quite a bit on the plot of the Korean horror film Into the Mirror (remade as Mirrors in the United States). Usually I would be shouting “RIP-OFF” at discovering this. However I don’t feel that ripping someone else’s work off was what director/writer Sean Ellis intended to do. I believe he set out to make a good horror film that would keep the audience guessing right up to the very end and I believe that he succeeds for the most part.
Lena Headey is very good as Gina Mcvey. She brings a calm to the character that I don’t think any other actress could have done except maybe for Nicole Kidman or Kate Winslet. Richard Jenkins as John McVey, Gina’s father, is also quite good and reminds us why he received an Oscar nomination. The rest of the cast is a credible one and there really are no weak performances.
The Broken is a good film. It is just not a great film. It borrows from other films a bit much and that hurts its’ credibility. Sean Ellis clearly shows talent as director. I for one would like to see something entirely original from him. I don’t think I will be waiting very long.
The inventive spelling of the title reads somewhat silly in Norwegian and Danish since the Ø in broken is a letter in the alphabet in these languages and sounds like the “u” in “burden”. In addition “brøken” is the Norwegian and Danish word meaning “the fraction”.