Horror Movie Marathon: Part Three

Written by Film, Horror Movie Marathon

In part three of her horror-a-thon, Kelly Stitzel finally gets around to watching The Cabin in the Woods, ponders whether or not the Better Off Dead paper boy grew up to become a serial killer, and catches up with a lost Thora Birch/Keira Knightley joint.

The Cabin in the Woods (2012). Directed by Drew Goddard. Starring Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kanz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford.

When The Cabin in the Woods came out earlier this year, I was really excited to see it. I’d been ancticipating its release for quite some time, despite the fact that it was a Joss Whedon joint (we can talk about my eyerolling tendencies when it comes to Mr. Whedon’s work another time) and because it co-starred Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins. Alas, I never got to see it in the theater because there was a lot of shit going on in my life at the time and I just wasn’t able to get around to it. So upon its DVD release a few weeks ago, I moved it to the top of my queue and decided to make it a part of this year’s horror-a-thon.

Since I knew I’d be seeing this movie long after everyone else, I went out of my way to not read or watch anything about it — no reviews, not plot descriptions, no trailers, nothing. The only thing I knew was that every one of my friends who saw it loved it. So I went into it with a totally open mind, knowing virtually nothing about it and believing that I, like my friends, would probably enjoy it immensely.

I did not enjoy it immensely. I didn’t even like it immensely. I thought it was…fine. It has a clever concept, for the most part, but it really bothered me that the plot became more important than the characters; in a good horror film, I think you’re supposed to identify with and root for at least one of the characters, even if it’s the villain. Here, though, I feel like we were supposed to root for the plot twists and that left me cold. I also found the ultimate explanation for the shenans perpetrated against the college kids to be a huge let down. For most of the last 20 minutes of the film, I found myself saying out loud to the screen, “Oh, come the fuck on. Really?” There were so many ways this thing could’ve gone and they picked the most cartoonish. Major bummer for me.

Also, I didn’t think The Cabin in the Woods was scary in the least. But then, I’m not sure it was supposed to be? Frankly, I’m not sure what it was supposed to be making me feel, but I’m guessing it was more than I actually wound up feeling. Maybe I expected too much from it.  I don’t know. It just did not grab me the way I had hoped it would.

For me, the biggest bright spots of the film are Whitford and Jenkins. I want them to have their own buddy cop movie or TV show or something. They were truly fantastic together. I also enjoyed watching Chris Hemsworth do his best James Van Der Beek impression. Other than that…eh and shrug. Sorry, Mr. Whedon — you still have not won me over.

Rosewood Lane (2012). Directed by Victor Salva. Starring Rose McGowan, Bill Fagerbakke, Ray Wise, Lauren Vélez, Lin Shaye, Lesley-Anne Down, Rance Howard. 

Ever wonder what would happen if the persistent paper boy from Better Off Dead grew up to look a little like Colin Hanks and became a psychopathic serial killer? Well, this movie might provide the answer to that question. If you’re in the mood for unintentionally funny thrillers featuring successful women being stalked by crazy people after moving into homes previously owned by relatives that died under mysterious circumstances, I recommend pairing Rosewood Lane with The 4th Floor.

The Hole (2001). Directed by Nick Hamm. Starring Thora Birch, Keira Knightley, Desmond Harrington, Laurence Fox, Daniel Brocklebank, Embeth Davidtz.

Netflix has The Hole classified as a horror film and a suspensful thriller, however it is not the former. There isn’t anything scary about it, unless you count Thora Birch’s British accent. As a thriller, though, The Hole works pretty well, even if the twist is pretty predictable.

What I found most interesting about The Hole  is the backstory of the film itself. Released in spring of 2001 overseas, Dimension Films picked up the rights to distribute it in the States that fall, but never bothered to do so, instead choosing to release it straight-to-video two years later. It was the first of two films Birch starred in that year, the other being the more successful Ghost World, and she reportedly pulled in a seven-figure salary for it. The Hole was also Keira Knightley’s first big film, though her breakthrough wouldn’t happen until 2002’s Bend It Like Beckham. Considering all this, I wonder if this film might have done well had it been released in theaters in the United States in, say, 2002. Birch was still considered a hot commodity back then, and Knightley soon would be also. It might have fit right in with the likes of Jeepers Creepers, Joy Ride, Cabin Fever, and the remake of Thir13een Ghosts.