Tuesday, 17 April 2012


In the previous post I mentioned that I'd be going to see The Hunger Games very soon. However what I omitted to mention was that this particular movie took priority and I just got back from watching it 45 minutes ago.

I mean, come on, man, I'm a big horror movie fan and I'm also a big fan of Joss Whedon who produced and co-wrote the screenplay. Okay so it was directed and co-scripted by his buddy Drew Goddard but as far as I'm concerned it's as much a Joss Whedon movie as Buffy was a Joss Whedon TV series. As far as I'm concerned Whedon can do no wrong and if he does it was the fault of other people. Whedon created Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and its superb movie spinoff Serenity (wrote and directed), he wrote the best X-Men series ever (admittedly helped by superb art by John Cassady), and lots lots more. His highly anticipated written/directed comic book movie The Avengers (Avengers Assemble in the UK in case we think it's the return of John Steed) opens shortly and of course I'll be there.

Despite only being released in the last few days, it was made three years ago but sat on the shelf, not because it was bad which is the usual reason, but because of studio financial problems. The reviews, while not unanimous, have generally been pretty good for a horror movie and now having sat through it I can see why. I certainly enjoyed it but it didn't knock my socks off.

The two photos above give you a pretty good idea of what it's about -creepy cabin, five young people- which means its either demons or slashers, Evil Dead or Friday 13th. The poster, however, suggests something else and the trailer almost gives everything away. Our gang is going into a controlled and monitored environment where something vile is going to happen to them. This isn't a spoiler as the very first scene is set in a high tech lab as are numerous others. The big questions are: who are these people and why are they doing it? And that is what I'm not going to tell you. Or the name of the super special guest star who appears in the last scene. No, it's not Bill Murray or Sarah Michelle Gellar and it isn't listed in the IMDB credits.

Okay, it's well made, the dialogue is good as you'd expect, the characters are interesting and intelligent unlike the usual kids you find in a Friday 13th movie where they're dumb as dumbshit. It is scary, though no-one in the audience screamed at the showing I attended and I think I had a mild jump at one fake-out shock. It is gory but not in the torture porn type of way. The cast are fine -Chris Hemsworth made this before his blockbuster star-making role in Thor, Frank Kranz, a Whedon favourite appears as the dope-smoking member of the gang. In a variety of supporting roles and cameos are other Whedon regulars like Tom Lenk and Amy Acker. It's well paced with a slow but not dull build-up to terror in the cabin and climaxes with a... No, I'm not going there except to say 'but the kitchen sink'.

It's a neat send up of and homage to horror movies and buffs like me will probably want to see it again to catch all the references. But apart from the actual premise and the sheer skill of film-making on display, it's just a good enjoyable horror movie. It doesn't reinvent the genre, it doesn't bring anything new to it and my socks remained resolutely on my feet. In other words, it isn't a new Buffy or Firefly, which I was hoping for, and thus counts as a mild disappointment.

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