Cabin in the Woods / The Raid

So this weekend, I intended to see The Raid, Lockout, and Cabin in the Woods. I only managed to see The Raid and Cabin in the Woods. Bit of a bummer, I was really looking forward to futuristic prison breakouts. But it’s all right, because Cabin in the Woods and The Raid are both fantastic.

Cabin in the Woods
As I noted above, this movie is fantastic. Unfortunately, I have trouble finding other things to say about it. That’s not saying that there aren’t good things to say about it. There are all kinds of wonderful, amazing things I’d love to say about it. But in doing so I’d surely ruin it. I’ve complained more than once that the trailers were totally spoiling the movie. But they actually didn’t. All that stuff we see in the trailer with the people secretly torturing the kids is all right up front. We meet those folks before we meet the stars, actually. But there’s another layer. And layers below that. It’s crazy. And I can’t talk about it at all. I’ll just say that this movie screws about with the genre cliches like crazy. And it all serves a purpose. It says a lot of things about horror movies and horror movie audiences. It’s brilliant, and you should really see it.

The cast is great, as well. The main five play their parts exceedingly well. Admittedly they’re specifically playing cliched characters, but they hit all the important points well. In the control booth we’ve got Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins who add a weird sort of terrifying glee. But they’ve also got a wonderful chemistry that makes them incredibly fun to watch, despite their grisly work. And, then, surrounding them is just a mess of Joss Whedon regulars. A number of faces popped up that I know and love, so that’s nice. And you always know Amy Acker’s going to put in a good performance when she’s wearing a lab coat. Seriously. Everything’s just pitch perfect in this movie. Go see it.

The Raid
It’s hard to find good things to say about this one, too. But not for the same reason. This movie is two hours of insane violence. If you like insane violence, you’ll probably like this movie. There are a couple scenes of “plot”, but they’re largely meaningless. The guy’s brother is a criminal, some cops are corrupt. It’s all boring, and not well thought out. It’s all just an excuse to get from one insane action set piece to another. And that’s fine. Cause the action is fantastic. They point the camera at the action and they let you see it. Very little shaky cam. And the shaky cam that’s there isn’t the “if the camera’s shaking so badly that no one can see the action, we can skimp on the choreography” shaky cam. It’s the “I’ve got so many cool things to film, I can’t figure out what”. Obviously that’s still an issue. But it doesn’t come up much, and when it does, it’s only for a moment.

All that being said, I do have a few complaints. Number one is that I don’t know who anyone is. They introduce us to Rama via a workout regimen, we barely get to see him, then suddenly everyone’s wearing armor, and you can’t tell anyone apart. Was that Rama? No, I guess not, he just got shot. How about that guy? No, stabbed in the neck, probably not. It’s not until midway through that any of the characters get any depth beyond “guy in armor”. Annoying. And the other big thing is that I didn’t love the final fight. There are several big fights leading up to it that are super impressive. But the last one was just kind of the same thing over and over. They’re trapped in a confined space, and there’s nothing to fight with… it’s kind of boring. Just doesn’t seem like the best way to end the movie. And then they try to end the movie with a big meaningful statement, like that’s going to make up for the complete lack of plot. You chose to ignore the plot for the whole thing. Don’t go back on that now. Stick to your guns. Don’t try to shoehorn a semblance of the plot in there at the last second, like we weren’t going to notice.