Horror is a genre that has seen varying levels of success over the last forty years. Action films can always be counted on to make a pretty penny, short of the occasional bomb (though to be fair, they haven't been so occasional this year), and comedies often turn decent grosses on much smaller budgets. Horror has never been so reliable. It's difficult to track what audiences find scary at any given point in time, and even if some studio has tapped into the zeitgeist, they can't always translate that into a good movie. This decade has proved to be one of the rougher patches for horror, save for new installments in the Saw or Paranormal Activity franchises. 2012 hasn't seen either of these come back around yet, and much of everything else that has come out so far this year has been low-profile and fiscally disappointing. Cabin in the Woods did okay, but the only two breakout successes were The Woman In Black (surprising but not totally undeserved) and The Devil Inside (ugh, fucking kill me).
No matter how poorly it does, though, I love horror. I love it at its best and worst, at its most brainlessly shitty and at the height of innovation. No other genre is as compulsively watchable to me, and since I've seen so few movies overall this year, I want this set of posts to act as both a catch-up for myself and a series of capsule reviews in case y'all are looking for something scary to watch. There's no real connection between whatever I review at any given time, just the ones that are itching to get out of my brain and onto the empty Blogger page. With that:
Cabin in the Woods
Easily the best horror film of the year so far, if not the best film period. Its role as a conventional teenagers-adrift slasher is questionable since there's very little conventional about the movie at all; some may find it a disappointment in that it simply isn't very scary. The film completely subs out fear, not really its strong point, for a pervasive sense of dread by the third act, which ends up being a much better fit for its nihilistic message. Likewise, the humor operates at a comfortable 70:30 hit to miss ratio, as it has in everything good ol' Joss has ever laid his hands on. Cabin in the Woods earns its keep with a thoughtful, confidently asserted premise, rich with an understanding of the horror genre that positions writer Drew Goddard as both scathing critic and diehard fan. Superb pacing, anarchic fun, and a surprising undercurrent of sadness make this an exceptionally unique offering to the genre canon. A-