Which was more pathetic and contemptible? The geek-love overkill that greeted the 2012 South by Southwest debut of Joss Whedon and Drew Godard‘s The Cabin in the Woods (the Bluray of which released five days ago) or the geek-love overkill that greeted Whedon’s The Avengers (streeting 9.25 via Disney Bluray) which opened theatrically about two months after Cabin?
Sometimes people need a few months to see things clearly. I presume I don’t have to nudge anyone at this stage of the game. I knew Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers were flashy but thin the day I saw them, but that’s me. I apologize for being more perceptive than most but…well, not really.
Remember that SXWW rave of Cabin in the Woods from Variety‘s Peter Debruge that ran on 3.9.12, and how he called it a genre-buster and a game-changer?
“Not since Scream has a horror movie subverted the expectations that accompany the genre to such wicked effect as [this], a sly, self-conscious twist on one of slasher films’ ugliest stepchildren — the coed campsite massacre,” Debruge wrote. “The less auds know going in, the more satisfying the payoff will be for this long-delayed, much-anticipated shocker, which was caught in limbo for more than two years during MGM’s bankruptcy.”
I wrote the same day that “a little voice inside is wondering if Debruge might be a little hopped up by that Austin fanboy atmosphere. Dispassionate observers who have no investment whatsoever in fanboy horror or susceptibility to Austin mania need to see this thing straight and cold. We’ll take it from there.”
And I took it from there on 4.11.12 when I wrote the following: “The Cabin In The Woods reminded me of an eternal truism — never, ever trust excited geek buzz coming out of South by Southwest. The people who go there are invested in SXSW geekdom and celebrating their own aroma and determined to whip themselves into a lather about any film that half does the trick.
“I know for an absolute fact that I’ll never watch The Cabin the Woods again…ever. Because for all the ‘fun’ of wading into a horror flick that fiddles with old cliches and scatters the cards in a way that feels fresh and smart-assy while spilling many gallons of blood, this is one of the coldest and creepiest films of this sort that I’ve ever…uhm, endured.
“Yes — director Drew Goddard and producer-cowriter Joss Whedon have taken the old Friday the 13th/Evil Dead ‘sexually active kids alone in a cabin getting slaughtered by a fiend’ formula and tricked it up and turned it into a kind of horror-hotel concept. With — SPOILER! SPOILER! — several older, cold-hearted creeps in shirts and ties and lab coats keeping tabs on the carnage like bored, professional-class cynics watching a dull football game that they couldn’t care less about.
“No horror film is about basking in the humanity of the characters and taking emotional saunas. All horror films say to the audience, ‘You’re fucked.’ But even for a genre that has revelled in blood and torture and sadism over the last 25 or 30 years, Cabin In The Woods is a stand-out. Horror isn’t about ‘scary’ this time — it’s about an ice-cold spectator game that will deaden your soul. Nobody cares, everybody suffers, blood everywhere, take the pain, life hates you, we hate you, God hates you, Lionsgate hates you, fuck off, we want to hear you scream for mercy. Oh, and one more thing: you’re so much more fucked that you know.
“Goddard and Whedon are saying to us, ‘Are you enjoying the game we’re playing here? Pretty cool, huh?’ Well, sort of…yeah. You’ve shaken things up, guys, and done it differently…fine. But you and your film are so detached from any shred of feeling or a facsimile of human reality (except in a few anecdotal ways) that you make me want to inject novocaine and embalming fluid into my veins. So I can feel like I’m part of the fun and the coolness. Thanks, dickheads.”