A weekend of polar opposites

We’ve been making our way through the pile of DVD’s me and my sister got for Christmas and started with Cabin in the Woods (she likes being terrified) and This is 40.

Cabin in the Woods was released in 2012 and directed by Drew Godard, produced by Joss Whedon and written by both of them.

It’s described as a ‘satirical’ horror film, poking fun at the genre whilst still making a film that fits into it. It follows, typically, five american teenagers looking for a weekend away of fun in, you guessed it, a cabin in the woods. The cabin and teenagers are as you’d expect – the cabin is creepy, they pass a local to get to it, there’s a jock, a blonde girlfriend, a nerd, a boy they’re trying to match her up with and a stoner, speaking the truth like one of Shakespeares’ fools. What goes on once they enter that cabin in the woods is controlled from outside by a government laboratory style enterprise, manned by two wise cracking officials (played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford). These guys explain that they have to offer these teenagers up, like sacrifices, to keep some old gods happy and stop the world from ending. The mix of office fun and teen horror movie is pretty funny, and could even have been pushed further, with more cross references between the two very different films taking place. There are nice in-jokes and when they get the ‘typical teen horror movie’ bits right, they’re funny too.

But it could have been slicker, better, funnier – if that was what they wanted. It’s first and foremost a horror film with all the satire and clever remarks taking a back seat once the dead start rising from their graves. The stoner character is clever, and I was most pleased to learn the actor, Fran Kranz, had intensive training in joint rolling and bong lighting. That’s dedication to your art.

Most of all the film was fun, if a little frustrating when you think about what more could have been done with the idea.

Secondly, we have This is 40.

The kind of almost not quite sequel to Knocked Up sees the married friends from Knocked Up Debbie (Leslie Mann) and Pete (Paul Rudd) both turning 40 in the same week and both questioning what they’ve been doing with those 40 years. It’s a Judd Apatow comedy, with lots of laugh out loud moments and lots of touching ones too (especially when you think Debbie and the two daughters are all played by Apatow’s actual family). It could do with a shorter run time, losing at least half an hour, and some points (like the uselessness of the fathers) are really hammered home. At times it can feel a little too depressing; do we really want them to stay married? But the jokes manage to outweigh the feeling of dread and the scenes with Jason Segel and Chris  O’Dowd are fun.

Overall, if you’re looking for laughs go for This is 40, but if you’re looking for gore and a little bit of satire, pick Cabin in the Woods.

Or alternatively, go for both and seek out Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. I’ve recommended it once and I’ll recommend it again. It’s brill.

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