My Week #45: The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods
Drew Goddard, 2012
Equal parts subtle and overt, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard's practically ideal and cleverly subversive horror/comedy is easily the best simultaneous send-up and reverent homage to slasher and slasher-esque cinema I've seen, trumping 2006's sly "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon". Sitting in the theater was sheer bliss as a physical euphoria washed over me for 90 minutes simply due to how damn much I was enjoying myself. While being perfectly satisfied on the level of a mere horror fan, I was also giddily laughing my ass off at the daintily whimsical nature that comes through in the lead creative duo's consistently pitch-perfect writing and directing. Any true fan of the genre's past 40 years should experience similar effects from the utter delight of watching these young actors unwittingly play in to every trope carefully arranged for them (and, really, for us, in an underlying economic sense) before the best third act imaginable ensues. Genre-defining? Yes, emphatically. In a way - a very fun way - it's even retroactively re-defining.

Further first-time viewings:

Planet Hulk - Sam Liu, 2010
So did someone take "A Princess of Mars" and rework it with Marvel characters? For all I've heard about this recent arc in the Hulk's pure comic incarnation, I can't but imagine that this presumably more obviously all-audiences animation is a severely watered-down summary. Why do I even bother with this sort of definitively unchallenging, colorful cotton candy filler stuff, when I could be watching one of the many, many heaped upon my pile of "I know of their reputed greatness, I'll get to them one day..." titles? Someone make me stop. Oh wait, too late, here comes this week's next film...

Big Money Rustlas - Paul Andresen, 2010
I watched "Big Money Hustlas" during my time as a fan of the Insane Clown Posse in 2004. I'd never call it "good", per se, but it has its moments, and the "magic, magic, ninjas, what" bit is honestly still hilarious. It's an enjoyable way for juggalos to waste time. This... I'm... well, I'm not sure it's doing ICP any favors when it comes to recovering from the (also hilarious) "magnets" fiasco not a year prior. Where "Hustlas" felt knowing of its ridiculousness, "Rustlas" feels like a crude celebration of idiocy, misogyny and gang mentality. Plus it just never really gels - even humorously - seeing dudes in thick clown paint doing up the whole old west thing. Still, not quite the worst thing I've seen from 2010.

Total: 3

Rewatches (2): The Evil Dead (Raimi, 1981); The Beast with A Billion Backs (Peter Avanzino, 2008)
- It is still so inspirational to see what a thoroughly entertaining and flat-out insane flick Raimi managed to make with just a group of friends, a camera and a few buckets of blood.
- Two years ago I would have told you that "Bender's Big Score" is the best of the "Futurama" movies. This year I'm amending that to bump former runner-up, "The Beast with A Billion Backs" in to first. It is more philosophically intriguing, as the property has the knack to whimsically be within its wacky universe full of snark and potential. It also doesn't have annoying naked aliens constantly sniffing things. The other two are fine, but suffer more from their episodic nature and poorer B-plots.

Episodic Television (4): Parks & Recreation (Live Ammo); South Park (I Should Never Have Gone Ziplining); The Benson Interruption (Episode 1 - Episode 6); Nick Swardson's Pretend Time (Powdered Doughnuts Make Me Go Nuts)
- Andy's "Boogie Nights" reference in the latest episode of "Parks"... just awesome. My girlfriend and I are always pointing out how that character is so similar to Eddie Adams. Now let's get an "Angels Live in My Town" rolling for Burt Macklin! Some major bricks were laid in this episode, perhaps altering my predictions and hopes for certain outcomes on deep levels (you wouldn't want me to get in to it, as I have elsewhere... I wouldn't stop). Exciting! As always!
- The South Park duo does a fair job of sending up both lame outdoors activity centers and even lamer melodramatic shock programming. The episode is tongue-in-cheek throughout, although a few ridiculously intricate fart jokes do elicit ironically earned laughs.
- I'm not sure if "Interruption" ever hit a stride, but at least it was beginning to get in to a slight groove after a very rocky and lackluster six episodes that quite honestly is better off having been cancelled (unfortunate coming from a comic whose apparent key source for material is the film world). I'm not sure who greenlights the premise of "A sleepy comedian sabotages vastly superior comedians' routines in the fashion of a lazy heckler before reciting his Twitter feed". I'm not sure if Benson really doesn't care or if that's just his schtick. I'm not sure about a lot of things, it seems. I am sure, however, that although this program does become more relatively watchable as it progressed, I only laughed out loud twice. One of those times was due to a Michael Ian Black-related plug for "Kids in America", which was later retitled "Take Me Home Tonight" thereby rendering the plug humorously inaccurate in retrospect.
- "Pretend Time" is shockingly not the worst thing I've ever seen, although man, it really is tough to get these sorts of sketch shows right. With rare exceptions, it's not nearly as good as just watching the same comedian's stand-up (an odd example to be using in correlation with the awful stand-up of Nick Swardson, but you get me).

Episodic Television Rewatches (2): Parks & Recreation (Flu Season - Li'l Sebastian); Futurama (Time Keeps On Slipping - A Taste of Freedom)

Literature (1): Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America (Leslie Knope, 2011)
- For as much as I enjoyed this book throughout, I will say I feel it peaked big time with its first chapter - Leslie's 24-hour tour of Pawnee. The character's blind enthusiasm for her town makes me want to move to rural Indiana and find a waffle diner with a rotating pie display. For the most part, the rest of the book undermines this attitude by detailing the preposterously heinous history of the town, from atrocities committed against the natives to supplementing the water supply with corn syrup. Of course part of Leslie's endearing nature is her ability to look beyond this history and aim to improve her surroundings, but man, chapter after chapter of that stuff almost makes the Pawnee of the book seem separate from the Pawnee of the show.

Stand-Up Comedy (1): Patton Oswalt: No Reason to Complain

Video Games (2): Dragonvale; Pocket Legends
- Now I get why people are so addicted to "FarmVille". Oh, who am I kidding? It's not that difficult to understand, and I've played plenty of games like it before. In "DragonVale" the carrot is always being extended in front of your nose with no ultimate reward outside earned aesthetics and increasingly ready access to them (an arguable point for many online RPGs, although in this case there isn't so much as a storyline... not that one is needed, but that's a whole other can of worms that will assuredly see me swooning over how perfect "Final Fantasy XI" was for the umpteenth time). Still, I can't quit watching/tapping my farms, my breeding cave, my habitats, etcetera, and I've near obsessively designed a practical yet attractive layout for my island. The game is blatantly built around encouraging in-game purchases with real money, which is a major downside, but thankfully one easily ignored in this case. I mostly just wish more was done with the idea of luring visitors to your island. There's a visitor counter, but as far as I can tell it doesn't hold sway over anything other than creating the illusion of perpetual activity - your exhibits earn steady profit regardless.
- "Pocket Legends" is like "Guild Wars" meets "Zork". Fun stuff, although again bothersome in its reliance on in-game purchases. I've been discouraged from continuing by reports that it's pretty much impossible to be worth a damn after level 20 if you're not shelling out the real bucks. No, thanks, that's not what I downloaded a free app for.

"My Week in Movies" is a Saturdaily column in which I share preferentially ranked capsule reviews for the films I view in, well, a week, along with thoughts on other forms of media I'm taking in (or masochistically subjecting myself to).

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