Cabin in the Woods - Featured

This Week in DVD: 9/25/12

Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard, 2012) – Even now as it hits Blu-ray, Cabin in the Woods is an incredibly difficult movie to review. Not because it’s hard to love, but because it’s one of the rare recent films to depend on surprise that actually managed to retain (most of) its secrets through a theatrical release. Maybe that’s because the flick didn’t get nearly the audience it deserved, but I’m still keeping quiet because plenty of folks who will love it have yet to discover it. Even the first scene is completely unexpected and promises a different movie than most people will suspect when popping their shiny movie disc of choice into their players.

The main plot thread involves a collection of 20-something horror movie archetypes (the jock, the ditz, the stoner, the prude, etc) marching out to certain doom in a rural cabin, but that’s only half of what the film is about. There’s another element that allows co-writer/director Drew Goddard and co-writer/producer Joss Whedon (longtime collaborators stretching back to Buffy the Vampire Slayer) to cleverly examine and poke fun at the horror movie clichés they gleefully employ in the A plot. You will get all the grisly fun expected from a “cabin in the woods” horror movie, just presented in a smartly tongue-in-cheek manner that is absolutely hilarious and surprisingly insightful. Quite honestly, this is easily one of the finest and most original horror movies released in the last decade, and one that will please genre fans and win over audiences who don’t generally like horror movies.

Goddard proves to be an expert wielder of suspense, gore, and jump scares as well as a movie geek smartypants capable of film school deconstruction and gut-busting belly laughs. We can guarantee that Joss Whedon brought a hell of a lot to the party as well and combined with The Avengersm the guy was officially responsible for the two finest pieces of geek entertainment of the year, movies that combine all the thrills audiences crave with a surprisingly large amount of humor thrown in as a bonus. Turns out that army of obscenely loyal Whedonites were onto something all along. Now let’s see what this guy is able to do now that he has made third most successful movies of all time under his belt and the keys to the Hollywood castle.

Cabin in the Woods arrives on Blu-ray in a package that treats it like the classic it will hopefully become. The transfer and audio mix are top notch and on the right system it should play out identically to the theatrical experience. The special features are plentiful as well, at least compared to what low budget movies normally get these days. There’s a nice 30-minute doc on the shot on set, a fantastic 13-minute piece on all of the physical effects so good that it should have been longer (as well as a similar featurette on the digital effects that proves those techniques are far less interesting in comparison), two flippant funny features under the “secret stash” label, an amusing Goddard/Whedon Q&A, and additional PIP interviews if you actually watch those things. However, the best feature is probably the director/producer commentary track that opens with Whedon promising that won’t just be “just like two nerds sitting in a dark room” and then turns out to be exactly that, only just as informative/hilarious as you’d hope. I don’t know if anyone out there actually watches special features before the movie, but if you’re one of those who might, don’t even consider that (see earlier rant on maintaining secrets for more). In short, you should really buy this disc. I hesitate to throw around words like “classic” when describing something so freshly released and deliberately silly, but I guess I just did in an underhanded way. Deal with it. (Phil Brown)

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Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman (Rupert Sanders, 2012) – There’s something so delightfully old school about Snow White and the Huntsman that makes it charming and extremely entertaining in spite of a handful of flaws. In an age when most people who make fantasy films and fairy tales feel the need to tart their films up with an abundance of slow motion or visual excesses (Tarsem and Zack Snyder, I’m looking squarely at you guys), it’s refreshing and heartening to say that first time director Rupert Sanders has crafted nothing more than a straight up action fantasy epic that holds up well when compared against standard bearers like Ridley Scott’s Legend and Wolfgang Petersen’s The Neverending Story. By big budget, summer blockbuster standards, the restraint shown here actually brings out the epic nature of the tale quite beautifully, making for one of the most pleasant surprises of the summer thus far.

Using the famed fairy tale of Snow White as a template, the film finds our titular heroine (Kristen Stewart) imprisoned by her evil stepmother and current queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) in a tower. Snow White has grown so beautiful while locked away that the magical powers and youthful façade of Ravenna have begun to fade. Just before Ravenna can eat Snow’s heart, however, she escapes to the dark forest and a local tracker, drunk, and widower known simply as The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) is tasked with finding her, after which time Ravenna says she will resurrect the man’s dead wife.

The screenplay from John Lee Hancock (A Perfect World), Hossein Amini (Drive) and first timer Evan Daugherty hits all of the expected plot points one would remember the original story having, but between those moments they add some very interesting original elements. Scenes depicting Ravenna’s abuses of power add the most, as the audience gets to fully see the squalor that her subjects live in. She was a person so evil that almost every living entity in her kingdom either died or became dark and twisted in some way. This extends to Ravenna locking up all of the beautiful girls in the land and literally sucking the youth out of them to keep up appearances.

While the film still largely rises and falls on the actions of Snow White, the film is owned largely by Theron who gives a stellar performance as the evil queen. Her voice rising and falling depending on her degree of anger, her turn here is positively chilling, and she’s aided by a script that bothers to give the character a logical backstory that doesn’t seem forced. Her motives are made clear early on that she wants humanity to suffer because of what she was forced to endure, and while she isn’t sympathetic in the slightest, it offers the audience something to latch onto.

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There’s something satisfying and nostalgic about Snow White and the Huntsman that feels like being stuffed after attending a buffet filled with nothing but comfort food. It’s certainly not high art, but there’s more than enough memorable moments here to make most summer moviegoers feel like they got their money’s worth and that they weren’t jerked around in many ways. Above all else and for whatever flaws people might think it has, this film is unabashedly genuine and the rare example of a blockbuster epic coming from a good place. (Andrew Parker)

 

Safe (Boaz Yakin, 2012) – In his latest effort to almost single-handedly bring back the feeling of every Cannon Films release from the 1980s, Jason Statham racks up one of his highest body counts to date in director Boaz Yakin’s Safe. Once again playing a lone bad ass assigned to taking a defenceless person under his wing while on a hunt for revenge and answers, Safe stands as a testament to Statham’s magnetism that the film doesn’t feel old and tired at all. The story can be pretty silly, but it’s just enough to hold the action sequences together with no more or less needed.

Luke (Statham) is a former NYPD internal affairs snitch from a branch of the force that “no one even knew existed” who now makes his living as a half assed cage fighter. After accidentally putting a fighter into a coma instead of throwing the fight like he should have, the Russian mob kills his wife, but lets him live on in hopes that he’ll commit suicide. To sweeten the suicide deal, anyone Luke talks to or befriends will be murdered.

As he’s about to kill himself, he crosses paths with a little girl named Mei (newcomer Catherine Chan), a math whiz kidnapped from China by the Triads (lead by famed character actor James Hong) to run and crunch numbers without leaving a paper trail. A set of numbers Mei has memorized has made her a necessary asset for both the Chinese and the same Russians who killed Luke’s wife. With nothing to lose and with some crooked cops willing to find and sell the girl to the highest bidder, Luke and Mei travel the city in search of the answers behind the numbers and why everyone wants to kill for them.

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The set-up for Safe is really deftly handled by writer-director Yakin (Fresh, Remember the Titans) because it adequately builds some dramatic tension before allowing Statham to go into full on ass kicking mode. The parallels between Luke and Mei and how their situations are cosmically and karmically entwined are somewhat more interesting than the gunplay that follows. Once the bodies start hitting the floor, however, the film does become a bit more standard and uninspired, but no less fun and amusing thanks to Statham’s patented blend of brusque wit and style. An amusing throwaway sequence where he enters a departments store to ditch his tattered hoodie in favour of one of Statham’s almost trademark dapper looking suits speaks to the knowing nature of the film. Yakin and Statham know what the audience wants and that they’ve seen it before. Neither should be faulted for that. (Andrew Parker)

 

Beyond The Black Rainbow (Panos Cosmatos, 2010) – After Ridley Scott’s Prometheus promised to revive the dark sci-fi movies of old and ultimately provided a frustrating disappointment, audiences should take solace in this weirdo little gem. If you played Beyond The Black Rainbow in the middles of a vintage sci-fi film fest with titles like Altered States, THX 1138, Scanners, Silent Running, and Dark Star, chances are the audience would be convinced this sucker was a genuine lost classic. That’s the obsessive level of detail that writer/director Panos Cosmatos (son of George P. Cosmatos who brought us Rambo: First Blood Part II and Cobra) put into his debut. Shooting on old cameras, ditching all forms of digital manipulation, and scoring with old school synthesizers, this thing is a practically fetishistic loveletter to the analogue genre era. Throw in a surreal n’ disturbing narrative that will delightfully melt the brains of anyone who watches and you’ve got yourself little oddball gem in search of a cult to embrace it.

Set in a fictionalized 1983 as imagined by lost 70s sci-fi filmmakers, Eva Allan stars as a young girl who imprisoned by the mysterious institution Arborin with uncertain motives. She’s constantly sedated and probed daily with odd questions from Dr. Barry Nyle (a deeply creepy Michael Rogers). The endless tests reveal that Elena has some sort of psychic powers and eventually the good doctor pops a pill promising answers that and is thrust into an almost indescribable drug trip not too far removed from the brain melting climax of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sure, it doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense, but boy oh boy does the filmmaker offer a wild ride. This is definitely a product of style over substance, but one that makes a convincing argument suggesting that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It’s a movie that begs viewers to get lost in the eerie atmosphere and come out the other side with their own interpretation of what it all apparently means. Don’t kid yourself, it’s a confounding experience that will frustrate plenty of folks. This ain’t for the masses, it’s for audiences who enjoy having their brain teased. Like Daft Punk’s underrated Electroma, Beyond The Black Rainbow recreates the odd wonder and drug enhanced style of past stream-of-conscious mind game movies perfectly. It’s designed to be played at midnight screenings and it’s a shame those don’t exist anymore. The 70s aesthetic of such films is recreated perfectly from the blinding white walls, to the found location future architecture, the (now) retro future fashion/hair styles, and some lovingly crafted in-camera effects that might lack the polished sheen of CGI, but feel far more organic. Cosmatos is also enough of a fan of this genre to realize that sound design is as important as a visuals and supervised an oppressive mix of ambient noises and a hypnotic soundtrack composed on analogue synthesizers by Black Mountain’s Jeremy Schmidt with a very John Carpenter-esque feel.

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All of which suggests that this is a movie you’ll want to have some pretty technical specs for the home video consumption and thankfully the Blu-ray gods have delivered exactly that. The video transfer ensures all of the colors glow while still retaining the nice film grain structure so important to the vintage look. The audio is also appropriately oppressive and sure to piss off the neighbors when played at the right volume. Sadly, for a film so filled with mystery, there are no special features to clear things up. Commentaries are completely absent as are making of docs. All we get is a deleted scene of a melting head that’s admittedly pretty cool, but if ever there were a movie demanding of some explanation about the production and motives from the filmmakers, this is the one. Hopefully this sucker gets some sort of cult following and a special edition re-release down the road, but somehow I doubt it. Ah well, at least you get a chance to sample this delightfully twisted flick in the best possible presentation. That may not be ideal, but it’s something. (Phil Brown)

 

Damsels in Distress (Whit Stillman, 2011) – For someone missing in action for over a decade, writer/director Whit Stillman fits into the current indie comedy landscape pretty comfortably with Damsels in Distress. His hyper-articulate comedies about depressed and privileged pseudo-intellectual young folk may have seemed a bit out of place in the 90s, but after a decade of mumblecore and Wes Anderson ripoffs, his latest comedy fits comfortably into a certain mold. The movie is still distinctly Stillman’s own, but by dropping some of his darker self-destructive themes in favor or more breezy brainy laughs, it feels like his most accessible work. That doesn’t mean the film will break records at the box office of course, but it should find a large enough new audience to at least ensure a far shorter hiatus between projects for the director this time, which in and of itself is cause for a celebration of sorts.

For anyone unfamiliar with Stillman’s previous three movies Metropolitan, Barcelona, and, The Last Days of Disco, perhaps a brief introduction is in order. The director emerged in the early 90s before Harvey Weinstein turned independent movies into a cottage industry of awards baiting. His no budget debut Metropolitan dabbled in the world of wealthy young New York debutantes and future heads of business. Over-educated, over-funded brats struggling to become adults and living purely for social events. It was a world that hadn’t been seen in a while, played out in a delightfully anachronistic comedy style. Taking a cue from the likes of Ernst Lubitsch or Preston Sturges rather than Woody Allen who most 20something New York filmmakers were aping at the time, the movie harkened back to sophisticated old Hollywood comedies. Dialogue driven with speeches and quips far too well-crafted for real life, the film was an odd combination of old and new, with bitter themes of failure and jealousy to darken the fun. He repeated the trick twice more, each time with a small audience being charmed with his unstuck in time cinematic voice.

Damsels in Distress recaptures that old/new comedy style, but without all the alienating “pain of a privileged youth” themes that earned the director an increasingly niche audience. This time his setting is an unnamed East Coast college that recently became coed. His protagonists are an eccentric group of elitist girls led by the apparent heir to Chloe Sevigny alt-it-girl throne Greta Gerwig as Violet. The girls always walk in a pack in long flowery dresses, determined to add a little feminine charm to their frat boy-heavy school. This means handing out decorated soap to smelly boys, offering doughnuts and tap dancing lessons to suicidal classmates, and dating guys to bring a little class into their bear-soaked lives. Sure, these are hardly noble pursuits, but ones that the group adamantly believes in, waxing intellectual about the topics in long flowery dialogue scenes whenever possible. Of course, heartbreak and depression slip into the girls’ lives (as always happens in college and Stillman’s permanently colligate world), but nothing that can’t be solved with impossibly quirky discussions and an attempt to start a new dance craze.

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The film is deliberately light and fluffy. It’s an impossibly innocent world where Violet’s desire to help braindead frat boys struggling to learn the color spectrum with dance and sweet scents feels oddly noble. A few scenes offer the bite of Stillman’s old days (particularly Violet’s feud with an embittered campus newspaper editor who disappears far too quickly), but mostly his movie just offers literate comedy fun. It’s a charming picture that’s highly constructed to feel as light as a feather, yet it’s certainly not for everyone. Without even a passing knowledge the black and white Old Hollywood DVD collection that clearly occupied much of Stillman’s time away from the camera, the material will probably sound stilted and unnatural. Well, it is, but deliberately so and reveling in the charms of a bygone era of heightened comedies that glamorize a lifestyle that probably never existed. The jokes about the innocent idiot frat boys are far less demanding and almost feel torn out of the non-R-rated scenes of movies like Old School, but they fit into the charmingly stylized world comfortably. Damsels In Distress is a slightly inside comedy that will make you feel smart for understanding without ever really testing your intellect that much. It’s definitely for a select crowd, but one that’s grown in recent years and will hopefully embrace Stillman through a long awaited second chapter of his career. He may be a bit of a one-note filmmaker, but no one else plays that note quite as well. His hyper-articulate comedies about depressed and privileged pseudo-intellectual young folk may have seemed a bit out of place in the 90s, but after a decade of mumblecore and Wes Anderson ripoffs, his latest comedy fits comfortably into a certain mold. The movie is still distinctly Stillman’s own, but by dropping some of his darker self-destructive themes in favor or more breezy brainy laughs, it feels like his most accessible work. That doesn’t mean the film will break records at the box office of course, but it should find a large enough new audience to at least ensure a far shorter hiatus between projects for the director this time, which in and of itself is cause for a celebration of sorts.

 

The Samaritan - Samuel L. Jackson

The Samaritan (David Weaver, 2012) – As the dark title screen of The Samaritan dissolves into grainy focus, we get a point of view shot of some bruised and battered guy with a gun barrel to his forehead begging for his life, seconds away from getting his brains blown out. The scene sets the stage for a very intimate and gritty film that director David Weaver has attempted to make with The Samaritan, but it’s a shame that this neo-noir’s gloomy tension only leaves us high and dry.

The Samaritan follows the story of ex-tough guy Foley (Samuel L. Jackson) who we see released from a 25 year prison stint for a crime we’re initially given little information about. This is good, as Weaver uses Foley’s ominous allusions to his mistakes only to give us a taste of the bitter and corrupted past that precedes the now reformed Foley.  Although Jackson’s role in the film is essential to The Samaritan, it unfortunately only contributes to the film’s lesser success as a ‘hard boiled’ styled thriller, and instead only adds to it’s larger failure as a film of this genre.

We meet Foley as he lies awake in his decrepit jail cell, haunted by memories of his past. It’s watching Foley’s lonely glide through the prison gates amidst other rehabilitated felons in loving embrace with their family members, solitarily drifting off into the lonely horizon that sets Foley apart from the rest. Weaver hits a nerve here and Jackson’s quiet and mysterious demeanour are well acted- for this portion of the film at least. As Foley visits desolate bars and walks empty downtown streets with steam pluming from every subterranean orifice, Weaver’s handle of the traditional ‘hard boiled’ atmosphere here is formidable. Filmed and set entirely in Toronto, it’s really quite interesting to see our typically shiny and sleek metropolis become a dingy Gotham City of sorts and when the nefarious playboy Ethan (Luke Kirby) comes into the picture, it’s clear that we have our Joker.

At first, Ethan is just as cryptic as Foley’s:  he asks Foley to accompany him to his night club, offering him Cocaine and sex with a cracked out, yet somehow beautiful, prostitute Iris (Ruth Negga). Weaver sets this early part of the story up wonderfully as he recreates the essential allure that most noir’s strive on: the absolute uncertainly that we as spectators have about any character’s motives, and the undeniable desire to sort out the pieces to this often deadly puzzle.

When Foley is manipulated by Ethan’s disturbing revelation of the true nature of Foley and Iris’ relationship, we see Weaver paying homage to one of the most notorious revenge plot films ever made (without giving too much away, its Korean if that helps) with The Samaritan. But when the film radically shifts gears to become a heist picture of sorts, it becomes increasingly obvious that The Samaritan is a confused film. (Brandon Bastaldo)

 

We Have a Pope (Nanni Moretti, 2011) – The College of Cardinals are locked in the Vatican, unable to leave until the next pope has been chosen. You’d think this would be an honor that the old men who had dedicated their lives to the church would be feverishly competing over, yet when director Nanni Moretti pans his camera over their withered faces, we can all tell they are thinking the same thing, “Please, please, Lord, don’t choose me.” That’s the starting point for Moretti’s gentle papal comedy We Have A Pope. It’s not a vicious satire of Catholic Church, but a more thoughtful piece about the immense pressure and responsibility of taking such a position. Fair enough, because who would really want to be the Pope anyways? It’s not all about wearing fantastic hats, it’s a life free of privacy and filled with scrutiny. A man asked to represent God as if his opinion could possibly be any more divine than the army of red cloaked chaps forever surrounding him. Moretti’s film shuffles through this concept rather ingeniously and while it may be just a little too simple, slow, and pat for some, We Have A Pope is certainly an intriguing little movie worthy of attention.

Eventually all those Cardinal-folk cast their votes and the choice seems to be unanimous. The elderly (obviously) Melville gets the call and while a smile might cross his face at the news, his body language reveals the truth, slinking deep into his seat terrified. Melville is given his new uniform and it’s announced the crowd that he will be making his first speech, but he doesn’t take the Vatican stage. Instead the Cardinals find him sobbing uncontrollably, unable to accept his new position. Now, it’s not exactly common for a Pope to step down once he’s been named the representative of God on earth, so everyone starts panicking. A psychiatrist is called (amusingly played by Moretti himself), but their “private” chat takes place in front of a lineup of curious Cardinals in a hilarious image. Eventually Melville sequesters himself and escapes, wandering the streets as an average man for possibly the last time while the Vatican and the world hold their breath wondering the heck n’ hellfire will happen.

What starts as almost screwball comedy quickly expands into a compelling examination of faith, doubt, weakness, and inner-strength. Melville is played exquisitely by Michel Piccoli, an 86-year-old veteran of over 200 films and longtime collaborator of Luis Bunuel. His character isn’t weak or a fool, he’s just understandably in existential crisis over his new position. At first, rather humorously so as he stumbles around in full Pope dress trying to sneak off the Vatican property or visit psychiatrists. Then it becomes a little more sad as he wanders the streets desperate for a normal life, speaking nostalgically about a failed acting career and doubting (even as he reaches the highest possible honor in his field) that he chose the right path in life. It’s one of those heartbreaking career-capping performances that would be Oscar-bait were it not for the Academy’s irrational fear of subtitles.

We Have a Pope is a fairly fascinating little film, if imperfect. The subject matter is ripe for dark satire that would be entirely appropriate, but Moretti never dares to go there. Perhaps it was as simple as trying to avoid controversy with the Catholic Church during production. Yet, even if the movie can feel a bit featherweight, it still works on it’s own terms. Moretti doesn’t want to condemn the church or faith, he’s merely examining the price of taking on the title of Pope and the fear that must come along with it that we never see in public Popemobile appearances. It also make the film more universal, dealing with issues of regret and the fear of responsibility that every one shares even if they don’t lead possibly the largest international religious organization (Scientology hasn’t quite caught up yet, right?). The movie isn’t for everyone, but if the concept sounds even remotely intriguing to you, it’s not to be missed. At the very least, I think we can assume there will never be another movie quite like it, even though I would love to see a Nicolas Cage remake with additional explosions. (Phil Brown)

 

Piranha DD (John Gulager, 2012) – Even when filmmakers intentionally go out to make a campy or off-beat (or bad) film, tone is key. Joe Dante (the director of 1978 Roger Corman produced original Piranha), James Cameron (the somewhat in-name-only director of the even more cut rate 1981 sequel to the original), and Alexandre Aja (director of the ridiculously fun 2010 remake) all understood this perfectly. Feast director John Gulager sadly doesn’t. His sequel, the cheekily titled, but curiously blunted Piranha 3DD has no tone whatsoever. It’s aimless beyond words, managing to botch the horror, comedy, and pointless T&A that the other three films to be spawned from the man eating fish premise got right. It’s barely even a movie and what ultimately makes it to the screen is so dire and boring that everyone involved should actually be ashamed of how badly it’s all phoned in.

The action transplants here from Lake Victoria on spring break to Cross Lake, Arizona where a lecherous ne’re-do-well (David Koechner) and his goody-two-shoes step daughter home from grad school (Danielle Panabaker) are majority and minority owners, respectively, in an inherited water park that stepfather wants to turn into a boobs and brews filled wonderland while cutting corners at every turn to save on cash. One of his cost cutting measures – an illegal well that cuts out the need for depending on the city for water pumping services – taps directly into Lake Victoria, and the sulphur smell from the chlorinated pools sends the dangerous fish into an all new feeding frenzy.

Only there is no frenzy since everything here is simply cobbled together from unfitting parts devoid of any humour or suspense. The soundtrack sounds like it’s pulled entirely from the special “ska remainder bin” that’s gone untouched since 1996, and every actor looks like they would rather be bouncing a tennis ball against a wall rather than being on screen here. The boredom hangs like a pall over the entire production.

Not even cameos from well known wash-outs like Gary Busey (taking on the same sort of Richard Dreyfuss role from the previous intallment) and David Hasselhoff or returning actors from the first film (Christopher Lloyd, Ving Rhames) can add to the fun. All four of them have nothing exciting or funny to do. Well, Rhames and Hasslehoff have things to do that might seem funny on paper, but are totally botched in execution because Gulager has absolutely no clue what to do with any of them.

The film also makes the grave mistake of turning this into a straight-up teens in peril flick since no adult would seemingly want any part of this (aside from the always game Koechner). The cast does what they can, but aside from Panabaker and 30 Rock’s Katrina Bowden, absolutely none of them can act worth a damn, which if you are trying to make a campy-horror comedy is actually the wrong way to go about casting your film. You want people who are IN on the joke, not people who ARE the joke. This film doesn’t have actors like Adam Scott and Elizabeth Shue from the previous instalment to fall back on. The main cast has literally nothing going for it here.

As for the gore, this film manages to screw that up, too. The most risqué sequence in the film again looks good on paper, but Gulager just can’t seem to get the rhythm of it right, turning it into a shock shot with a weak payoff. Thankfully it involves Bowden, who sells it like a true pro and salvages the smallest bit of fun to be had in the film. Even the supposed Grand Guignol styled finale manages to be dishwater dull, devoid of any memorable scares, dismemberments, or gory kills that make people want to watch these kinds of movies in the first place. It becomes so monotonous and by the numbers – racing to get to the ending in a bafflingly short 74 minutes before the credits hit – that I literally began counting the seconds until the film ended.

Although the truncated running time and constantly shifting release date of the film gives me some room for pause when knocking the gore effects since the film moves and looks like a whole lot of footage was excised on the cutting room floor, even in mundane dialog sequences. Nothing really pieces together, but maybe, as is so often the case with such films, there was a great deal of interference on this front for various reasons that I’m not entirely sure I care to know.

Early on in the film when asked what a character thinks of the park she remarks that she thinks it’s a really expensive joke. If that had been in the 2010 film, that would have been a knowing metatextual line that would have summed things up brilliantly. Here, it’s an outright lie. This film is a short, and cheap joke that tries desperately to recapture the original. It’s like hearing a joke that you already know and liked being retold to you by someone that’s incredibly drunk who can’t quite remember it all and keeps getting distracted before coming to the punchline you knew was coming from the start. Just like being in the presence of said drunk, you don’t necessarily want to leave because you liked the joke the last time, but you can’t help feel like your time was just wasted and you keep checking your watch waiting for it to end. (Andrew Parker)

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