Writer & Filmmaker

The Cabin in the Woods

 

2012

 

Meta is Beta

 

Take five students, throw in some definable characteristics more recently post-Vogler by way of Campbell after making a nod to Egri then you have a recognisable cast.  Safely strapped into their modern Mystery Machine, the clearly able and watchable archetypes head off into the back woods/outback/hinterland or valley about to be flooded. Take your pick and in this case the clue is in the title.

Once the famous five, despite being warned off from nasty grizzly man from central casting, reach the eponymous cabin the japes begin. And for anyone who’s had access to the horror back catalogue you’ve got a very recognisable stage for it to play out on, as the tropes are now all in place. And as is the fashion in this wonderfully post modern genre horror piece it’s not such a question as not to look behind you but don’t look beneath it in this Meta is Beta enjoyable journey into filmic expectations.

puppeteer as director analogy to its limits

Director, former Buffy scribe:  Drew Goddard reunites with co-writer/producer Joss Wheadon who created Buffy and who’s written/directed Marvels Avenger Reunites now storms the box office.  The team takes those expectations, sprinkles in the idea of fear in the fine tradition of Meta movies that tread between homage, pastiche and critical analysis, which allows Drew Goddard to take the puppeteer as director analogy to its limits.

As with the expectations clearly laid out from the start, the film moves along at a pace with each character making choices. These choices, perhaps made under duress but relying on a loose interpretation of free will although seemingly influenced by outside forces,  allows each character their “in the limelight” moment in varying ways but, ultimately with similar outcomes.

pray that no one has made a ring tone of it

Goddard and Whedon make fine use of the primal if not atavistic nature of survival as the film billows along in the smoky trail left by Fran Kranz’s  almost tongue in cheek , Marty potboy (one who never clears a pub table). The effects are all neatly in place to accommodate the journey as is the sound mix that if not stirring will certainly stir you from any slumbers, and pray that no one has made a ringtone of it.

As the film reaches its climax where the previous notions of Dumas French noblesse, Musketeer rally call, “all for one, and one for all” falls on deaf ears, it’s time for a re-evaluation of the character arc of all the characters that have been on a journey. Or perhaps, not.  Perhaps, leave Meta where it was and don’t dig too far, where the old advice of when in hole stop digging translates into when in a Whedon- Goddard much like any Buffy season suspend all reason — just enjoy.

Here’s what I thought: Engenders food for thought but perhaps not too much cheese at such a late hour if such things are to be believed. But as the film and the genre rely on such observations and belief, perhaps in the spirit of it: eat light but carry a big stick…

Sneaky Watch Peeks:  Four or five times but that was just to pass the time, and had nothing to be with the illumination offered.

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