2 Best Movies to Watch by Richard Cetrone

Staff & contributors

The Cabin in the Woods came to be as Buffy The Vampire Slayer writers Drew Goddard and and Joss Whedon set themselves on a mission to upgrade the slasher genre. With this film, they wanted to satirize the way it slips into torture porn. In other words, they aspired to make a clever, punchy new classic. Amassing a 30 million dollar budget attests to their hopes: a massive backend of VFX work provided an elaborate film world, where different levels of 'reality' are at play. As six college students head into the woods to spend a debaucherous weekend undisturbed, a whole underground laboratory monitors their every move. It appears that a big operation is underway to trap the unsuspecting crowd into a curated murder scenario, straight out of a horror movie. Among the victims, we see Chris Hemsworth at the time his career was just taking off, so that's history in the making for you.

Unfortunately, in its devotion to provocatively render some horror tropes irrelevant, The Cabin in the Woods cannot help but reinforce others. It still carries the whiff of the late 2000s' misogyny in the way it portrays women and it certainly doesn't try hard enough to disrupt the genre's opposition to female sexuality. The characters of Dana (the virgin) and Jules (the experienced one) are sure to make you wince, as they're written as flat as a piece of paper. So you say no to torture porn, but embrace misogyny...?

Genre: Fantasy, Horror

Actor: Adrian Holmes, Amy Acker, Anna Hutchison, Aya Furukawa, Brad Dryborough, Bradley Whitford, Brian J. White, Chelah Horsdal, Chris Hemsworth, Dan Payne, Dan Shea, Ellie Harvie, Fran Kranz, Greg Zach, Heather Doerksen, Jesse Williams, Jodelle Ferland, Kristen Connolly, Lori Stewart, Matt Drake, Nels Lennarson, Patrick Gilmore, Patrick Sabongui, Peter Kelamis, Phillip Mitchell, Richard Cetrone, Richard Jenkins, Rukiya Bernard, Sigourney Weaver, Terry Chen, Terry Notary, Tim DeZarn, Tom Lenk

Director: Drew Goddard

Rating: R

Less homage to Star Wars than it is a pastiche of that cultural juggernaut, a strong sense of déjà vu hangs over Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon. Unfortunately, in plainly appealing to the memory of its vastly superior inspiration so many times, it inadvertently reminds viewers of how much better its muse is. There are far too many direct copycat scenes here for Rebel Moon to craft anything like an identity of its own, but its derivativeness might be forgivable were it not so self-consciously, humorlessly straining for epicness.

Rebel Moon rises with narration from Anthony Hopkins and an operatic score — a promise of grandness it never lives up to. At two-hours-plus, this dreadnought announces its lofty ambitions for future franchise status at every turn, but never once earns it: the dialogue is creakingly expository and the acting is spotty, ultimately making it feel like the film has lazily assumed it's already secured all the interest it needs to justify a potential two further sequels and a galaxy of tie-in media. Though there are bright spots that suggest an actual movie lurks somewhere deep within its 134 minutes, Rebel Moon instead feels like a laborious couple of hours of scene-setting that arrogantly banks on you returning for more, despite doing little to deserve any more of your time.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Actor: Adam J. Smith, Alexander Ward, Alfonso Herrera, Anthony Hopkins, Bae Doona, Ben Geurens, Bonnie Morgan, Brandon Auret, Brett Robert Culbert, Caden Dragomer, Carolyne Chen, Cary Elwes, Charity Witt, Charlie Hunnam, Charlotte Maggi, Christine Kellogg-Darrin, Christopher Matthew Cook, Cleopatra Coleman, Cody Banta, Colby Lemmo, Corey Stoll, Danielle Burgio, Derek Mears, Djimon Hounsou, Dominic Burgess, Douglas Tait, Dustin Ceithamer, E. Duffy, Ed Skrein, Elise Duffy, Elizabeth Martinez, Fra Fee, Francis Ngannou, Gary Nohealii, Giovanni Lopes, Greg Kriek, Ingvar E. Sigurðsson, Isabella Brenza, James William O'Halloran, Jena Malone, Jordan Coleman, Josefine Lindegaard, Kayden Alexander Koshelev, Kendall Wells, Kingston Foster, Mark Steger, Matt Nolan, Max Pescherine, Michael James Bell, Michiel Huisman, Mingus Johnston, Napoleon Ryan, Patrick Luwis, Raphael Corkhill, Ray Fisher, Ray Porter, Rhian Rees, Richard Cetrone, Robbie Jarvis, Rory Gibson, Sam Bass, Sam Stinson, Samantha Win, Savanna Gann, Scott Subiono, Simon Potter, Sisse Marie, Sky Yang, Sofia Boutella, Staz Nair, Stella Grace Fitzgerald, Steven Allen, Stuart Martin, Thomas Ohrstrom, Tony Amendola

Director: Zack Snyder

Rating: PG-13