The creators of "The Cabin in the Woods" were really onto something. Not only is the film an entertaining homage to the horror genre, it takes us on a journey to a place we never expect and never want to leave.
It's first half is equal parts "The Evil Dead," "Westworld," and "Scream." In it, a group of five, young, attractive, friends venture out to a cabin in the woods where they meet all kinds of horrors. You have your stereotypical jock, slut, and weirdo stock characters. There are also the hordes of zombies, monsters, and death traps ready to kill them all well; but what makes this film standout is its marvelous subplot. In it, we are introduced to a team of lab technicians who at first seem harmless, but quickly turn out to be cruel puppet masters pulling many important strings. They reside in a mysterious laboratory that holds a carnival of secrets and a literal museum of horrors.
Why the lab technicians do what they do is so interesting that it makes you wonder why no one thought to make the movie about them. They are played by veteran actors Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian J. White, Amy Acker, and Sigourney Weaver (yes that one) who all look like they had a blast making this film.
The script even manages to successfully breakdown the fourth wall on many occasions: there are homages to countless numbers of horror flicks, subtle winks at the camera, and sharp humor that gives off a vibe that you should never take anything that's going on too seriously. However, it relies on a predictable jump scares and a lot of gore to keep the diehard horror fans entertained, but some audiences may not stick around long enough to get to any of the fun parts.
For a small budget horror film, there is a lot to like here, yet there is too much left over that needs to be explored. Nevertheless, I highly recommend "The Cabin in the Woods." This is one of the many terrific films of 2012.
"The Housemaid" tackles a lot of subjects within its 107 minute time frame. It is a Korean film about a housemaid who entangles herself in a love triangle with her employers. It attempts to explore gender disparities, class disparities, infidelity, and the after effects suicide, but fails to get into the meat of these subjects by its highly confusing conclusion. The film works because of its high visual style, crudely dark melodrama, and commanding performances by its female leads. Jeon Do-yeon, who plays the lead character, does an excellent job at playing both a good girl and a highly convincing seductress. I think this film would have been something special if it gave itself more time to tell its wonderful story, however, there are just one too many things missing.
"Peeples" is an out and out, unapologetic rip-off of "Meet the Parents." It nearly matches the film scene for scene, character for character, and line for line. However, "Peeples" is hardly ever funny and is doomed by its miscasting of David Alan Grier in a pivotal role.
"The Office's" Craig Robinson stars as Wade Walker, a child therapist of sorts who enjoys the pleasures of a simple life. He is in a happy relationship with a kind beauty named Grace Peeples, played wonderfully by Kerry Washington. Grace likes to keep many secrets. Her family, for example, is full of highly competitive overachievers and she fears that they will not accept Wade's lifestyle. She hasn't yet mentioned Wade to them, but Wade assumes she has. So, on his own one weekend, Wade takes a boat ride to a lavish home in the Hamptons where the Peeples reside.
Here, he meets Grace's parents, Virgil and Daphne. The curmudgeon-like Virgil dislikes him from the get-go and wants him gone, however, the kind hearted Daphne invites him to stay and meet the rest of the family, including Grace's slightly younger lesbian sister and much younger troublemaker of a brother. Like Grace, they are all hiding secrets from one another and we witness how the family has been slowly unraveling for decades. Reluctantly, Wade uses his know-how to help the family reconcile their differences, all the while trying to impress them with his charms. Like Ben Stiller's character in "Meet the Parents," he ends up only making things worse, much worse.
After getting to know Wade, the family starts warming up to him; however, Virgil still hates him with a passion. Virgil proceeds to make their relationship more strained and distant than it needs to be, but that never makes sense because he reveals late in the film that he never wants people to think of him as strained or distant. Every action he takes against Wade is ultimately proven to be moot-one of the many problems found in "Peeple's" weak script. Writer/director Tina Gordon Chism prolongs every conflict to excruciating lengths in order to fill the hour and thirty minute run time. Most if not all conflicts could have been solved with a simple, heart to heart, adult conversation.
Of the few good things about "Peeples," it does sport a great cast with very interesting characters. Wade is the unfortunate straight man; Grace is the divided love interest, Virgil is the curmudgeon, and Daphne is the glue of the family. Robinson does a great job at playing Wade, and like Jimmy Stewart, he is at his best when playing the everyman. Hopefully, he can tackle more challenging material now that "The Office" is closed. Kerry Washington too delivers a great performance, but at this point in her career she too can find better material. Daphne is a very interesting character who I wish was given more to do on screen; her character is very similar to Greg Focker's mother in "Meet the Fockers." David Alan Grier is horribly miscast as Virgil and his performance is to blame for a lot of the failures of this film. He is required to be both intimidating and funny, and he fails at both. When Robert Dinero played a very similar role in "Meet the Parents," we could understand why people were so afraid of him, Dinero is and has a history of playing scary characters. Grier is a nice guy, he plays nice guys, but surprisingly he cannot deliver a laugh no matter what he says or does.
I saw a woman walk out on this film about half-way through, and after the film repeats an unfunny gag about urine for the third time, I did too.