Tag Archive | The Cabin In The Woods

Recommended Viewing: The Endless

The Endless Movie Poster
All Images Courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment

If you’ve seen the two previous feature films by writer/director team Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, then you understand that these guys enjoy being meta. Both their 2013 breakout sci-fi flick, Resolution, and 2014’s body horror/romance, Spring include references to a common character (“Shitty Carl”) who is never seen onscreen, and the duo even appear together in one scene in Resolution. Impressively, their new film, The Endless, takes meta to a delightfully mind-bending level.  Not only do audiences finally get to meet Shitty Carl, but the two main characters (and one minor character) from Resolution appear in a few pivotal scenes of The Endless, reprising their roles from the previous film. Stephen King does this type of cross-referential thing in his novels all the time as a way to expand and validate his fictional worlds, and here the device works well to let The Endless serve as both a possible sequel to Resolution, while also letting it stand alone as a solid, separate story that contains a few winks and nods for hardcore fans. You don’t need to see one to ‘get’ the other, and to infer that this reveal is a ‘spoiler’ would be like saying that seeing Rogue One spoils the plot of Star Wars.

The Endless stars Benson and Moorhead as brothers Justin and Aaron Smith, roommates who own and operate a small housecleaning business, but struggle to pay the bills. Although they appear to be about the same age, it is inferred that Justin is the elder sibling by, say, ten years. One afternoon, Aaron receives a battered package in the mail, containing a video tape on a format that is long obsolete. After hitting up a couple of yard sales, he finds a device that will play the tape, which shows footage of a young woman who speaks to the camera about an unspecified, upcoming  event. Aaron recognizes her as Anna (Callie Hernanadez), whom he knows from a cult-like commune that took-in the brothers after their parents died in a car accident. It’s unclear how long they lived at the commune, but suggested that ten years have passed since they left – or was it ‘escaped’?

Aaron shares the tape with Justin, insisting that the two make a return visit to the commune so that he can gain some type of closure, and also make sure that Anna and the other friends they left behind are all okay. Justin has zero desire to go back, but indulges his younger brother on the condition that the trip be limited to just one day. Right.

Justin and Aaron in Boat
There Might Be Something in the Lake Other Than Fish

Though it’s not immediately obvious that the group worships or follows the teachings of any particular figurehead, guru or phenomena, things get weird right away. First off, Justin quickly observes that residents of the commune appear to not have aged a day in the ten years since the brothers left. Aaron sees flocks of birds flying in odd, circular patterns, and surprise photographs and other recorded media containing images of the two just kind of ‘show up’ randomly. And, oh yeah, isn’t that a second moon up in the sky? What’s that about? And who, or what, is on the other end of the rope in that midnight Tug-of-War ritual?

Three Moons
Make that Three Moons

The Endless is one of those films that’s comprised of multi-layered mysteries and plot twists that you won’t see coming no matter how much you think you know what is going on. The subtle horror, slowly-mounting suspense and ever increasing sense of dread will have you on the edge your seat, and it’s really best to go into the theater knowing as little about what happens as possible. While it could be described as Cabin in The Woods meets Primer, The Endless will also appeal to those intrigued by the exploration of cults and cult-mentality, as addressed in the Netlfix documentary series, Wild Wild Country. It is certainly a film that invites multiple viewings, and it will leave you with lots to discuss with fellow viewers long after leaving the theater.

The Worley Gig Gives The Endless 4 1/2 out of 5 Stars!

The Endless Hits Theaters on Friday April 6th, 2018. Find a Showing Near You at This Link!

Justin and Aaron

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead Direct and Star in The Endless.

Recommended Viewing: The Day

The Day Movie Poster

If you’ve read Cormac McCarthy’s chilling, post-apocalyptic novel, The Road, or seen the movie based on the book, you will surely recall the scene where The Man and The Boy come upon an abandoned farmhouse in which they hope to seek shelter, only to discover that its basement is occupied by unfortunate survivors who’ve been unwittingly captured and trapped there to await, let’s just say for the sake of avoiding spoilers, a ‘fate worse than death.’ Now, take that scene, dial back the ‘grisly-mind-numbing-horror’ factor by about sixty percent, turn it into an “Old West-style” stand off and expand to 84 minutes and you have the basic plot of The Day, a new action/drama opening nationwide this Wednesday, August 29th.

The directorial debut of Doug Aarniokoski, The Day features a talented cast including Shawn Ashmore (X-Men trilogy), Shannyn Sossamon (Wrist Cutters: A Love Story), Dominic Monaghan (Lord of The Rings) and Ashley Bell (The Last Exorcism). It is the terrific acting performances and the unique character revelations within the limited scope of plot that elevate The Day beyond a rote doomsday retread best left to ‘rental’ status to a taught thriller worth experiencing in the theater.

Shot to great effect in a muted palate of grays and browns with only select flashback scenes appearing in color, The Day covers a 24-hour period in the lives of five people (two women, three men, probably in their late twenties) who are approximately ten years into life after an unnamed apocalyptic event. Daily life for these individuals centers on maintaining a near-constant state of vigilance necessary to avoid deadly encounters with that faction of humanity which has resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. With one member of their group gravely ill, bad weather looming and nightfall approaching, the group retreat to an empty farmhouse, but their hoped for safe haven turns out to be a trap set by those who would view them only as “meat.” As the small group band together and prepare to fight for survival against an unknown number of attackers, questions of loyalty and hidden agendas surface that blur the lines between just what separates the good guys from the bad guys. You’ll be kept guessing right up until the final shot.

Shannyn Sossamon is a very appealing actress and she is quite good in the role of Shannon, a woman struggling to maintain her humanity in the face of unrelenting loss and horror. The stand out performance here however is that of Ashley Bell as Mary; a newcomer to the group whose reticence and flinty exterior mask a tightly-capped well of emotion and fury. Bell’s Mary provides the fulcrum on which the entire plot flips and Bell proves herself to be a formidable action hero. She is a star to watch, for sure. While there is extreme crazy violence in the film, the lack of blood red on the color spectrum helps to mitigate the gore factor, while a few instances of truly original, brutal combat–level violence evoke great cathartic release for the audience. And that’s never a bad thing. For fans of The Walking Dead, Road Warrior and The Cabin in The Woods, The Day is highly recommended.

The Worley Gig Gives The Day 4 out of 5 Stars

The Cabin In The Woods: Not Your Typical Teen Horror Flick!

Cabin In the Woods Poster

There are certain movies that contain secret plot twists whose reveal is so pivotal to the way the film plays out – The Crying Game and Sixth Sense come to mind immediately – that the only way to avoid spoiling the film is to go into it with virtually no knowledge of what the movie is “about,” save for perhaps the most skeletal of story lines. The Joss Whedon-produced, Drew Goddard-directed horror/comedy The Cabin in The Woods is one such film. As I sat through the closing credits at last night’s press screening (exit music by Nine Inch Nails. Yes!) I was honestly confounded as to how I could “review” this film without ruining the sublime pleasure of navigating its multilayered, non-traditional plot detours. Because, in this case, the less you know about The Cabin in the Woods, the more satisfying your experience of the movie will be.

Sitting on the shelves at MGM for three years, Cabin’s release is perfectly timed to advance the hype of Whedon’s upcoming blockbuster-to-be, The Avengers, while also, purely by coincidence, having something in common with current box office smash The Hunger Games – and that can’t be bad for business. The basic plot launches from a weekend trip taken by five college student friends to a remote Cabin, ostensibly owned by one character’s cousin: a trip, of course, during which everything goes horribly, irreversibly wrong. These five kids embody every teen-slasher-flick-character cliché: there’s the Jock, the Slut, the Studious Girl, the Stoner Nerd who provides comic relief and the Nice Guy. From the film’s kick off, a parallel storyline involving a high tech company whose employees appear to know much more about the Cabin in The Woods than the five teens immediately takes the film to a level beyond the mundane and predictable. As the two main technicians, veteran actors Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under) and Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) deliver some of the film’s best lines of sharp, comedic dialog and continuously break or heighten the tension as they manipulate the kids into behaving in ways that will lead them into further danger. And that’s all I’m going say about it, because, really, what comes next, and then next after that, is just too good to give away. Two horror stories that came to mind while watching Cabin include the film Thirteen Ghosts and Clive Barker’s original-novel version of Midnight Meat Train. If those comparisons pique your interest, The Cabin in The Woods is your wet dream of a horror film. I never go to see movies like this, and I really loved it.

Opening Nationwide on Friday, April 13th, The Worley Gig Gives The Cabin in the Woods Four out of Five Stars!