Avengers - You know that the superheroes are gonna triumph over the aliens.
Ek tha Tiger - Come on. It's Salman Khan. You know he's gonna live through all the bullets and blasts.
The Dark Knight Rises - Okay. I'll grant you this one. It was always 50-50.
Jism 2 - There will be cleavage.
Jannat 2 - There will be Emraan.
Cocktail - The desi girl will triumph over the modern girl.
Basically, every Bollywood romance - The guy gets the girl.

The thing is we tend to enter most films knowing exactly how the story goes.

So if I were to ask you to go watch a film where a bunch of air-headed teenagers go frolicking in the forest and start getting killed by an evil force there, would you please listen to me ?
I know. I know.
We've all seen that storyline in English B-grade movies for decades.

 "The Cabin in the Woods."
Even the uninspiring title is meant to lull you into a false sense of 'been-there-seen-that'.

A few years back, in a panel, 'director' Sajid Khan infamously said that he doesn't need a script to make a movie a superhit - just a huge star cast. He felt the concept of a 'bound and ready script' was outdated. I even remember reading a Jacqueline Fernandes interview where she too stated that they would enter the sets of his movie with no idea what to shoot and just ad-lib scenes. And this was after travelling to foreign locations and renting palatial houses.
Sadly, he did prove his point with absolutely brainless movies with puerile humour that are all sitting proudly in the 100 crore league club.
The losers are people like us - people who have to suffer the movie, wondering what we did in our past lives to deserve this.

So to watch 'The Cabin in the Woods' was like a breath of fresh air. All the cliches are right there in front of you :
The lusty blonde. The sportsman jock. The nerdy geek. The shy girl. Redneck rural guy warning them not to go on. An isolated cabin. Monsters.
And yet, the writers, Joss Whedon ( Avengers ) & Drew Goddard ( Cloverfield ) have taken each aspect of this oft-repeated tale and reconstructed it into an absolutely brilliant script. You can keep trying to guess what's going on, right from the very beginning ; chances are you still wouldn't have gotten it right by the time the final act of the movie begins.
Revealing anything more than this would spoil the surprise.The fact that it wasn't just a boring old horror film - the individual touch of the writers is visible with Whedon's smart sense of humour ( remember Avengers ? ) perfectly blending in with Goddard's sense of the supernatural ( Lost, Cloverfield ). Also, to fans of the horror genre, there are some awesome surprise cameos ( Hint : not necessarily human )

A last point for those still sitting in the fence wondering whether to watch it - RottenTomatoes rated it at 90% ( 177/196 critic reviews worldwide ) placing it even higher than The Dark Knight Rises at 87%.

I saw a few movies this last month that kept me guessing till the end. The other two are not even English, frankly - the Argentine thriller and Oscar Winner 'The Secret in their Eyes' and the Spanish movie 'The Skin I live in.'
While the former builds up like a slow-boiling kettle, showing the decades long after-math of an unsolved rape/murder and how it affects not just the victim but the investigating officers, the latter reveals its hand in the longest movie flash-back with Antonio Banderas starring as a doctor you really, really don't want to cross.
I liked both of them, not because they are feel-good movies ( they aren't ) but because they are proof, atleast to me, that a good script is still the key to a good movie.

I don't know but I'm guessing screenplay writers in Bollywood probably don't earn nearly as much as they ought to. And that's the sad truth of the system. Everyone banks on star cast rather than storyline.
Movies like Vicky Donor are the rare exception - where actual importance is given to the story and not the cast.

I wish we had more movies like that. Movies that we didn't have to say 'Leave your brains behind' while going to watch.



Anonymous said…
Today I was thinking of doing a post on my favourite foreign language movies. I haven't seen the two you have mentioned but the ones I have seen have left a lasting impression. I will do that post soon.
And I did hear good reviews for Cabin in the woods but I thought it will get cliched at one level. I will watch it soon now that you have recommended it.
Saw Ek Tha Tiger. Ek tha Tired - yeah that was my state of mind by the time it got over.
Prats said…
I know what you mean and I used to feel the same way some time back. But since couple of years I don't find mindless comedies too bad... I mean when I walk into the theater what I want is a minimum amount of pressure & stress on my brain cells I go there to relax from the chores of office, stress of Bangalore traffic. Probably the definition of entertainment changes with time.
Roshan said…
Please please make that list.. am dying to get some good (cough cough downloadable cough cough ) movies... you must watch these two. No graphics, no explosions. The first one will wow you with just the acting chops and the screenplay. The second one is much more sinister.
And believe me - the whole idea of Cabin in the Woods is to make you think of all the cliches... but you will end up laughing gleefully midway through the movie
Roshan said…
I honestly dont mind a 'good' entertainer. I don't need an Inception level storyline. But I would appreciate a storyline.

I saw bits of a Sajid Khan movie while flipping channels ( I think it was Housefull ) where Akshay n Ritesh get electrocuted in the house and then start walking out and electrocuting everyone they see on the streets. The street dancers think they are making fun of their dance and then challenge them to a dance and these two are still convulsing as they dance and electrocute everyone.

The scary part is that people tell me that was one of the better moments of the movie.
Nagalakshmi V said…
good post doc. generally i don't want horror movies but you have compelled me to try this one. the safest place for me to watch it is in a flight :D

i watched "buried" recently, starring ryan reynolds (and only ryan reynolds). was decent although i didn't admit it at the time. affected me quite badly.
Roshan said…
i havent watched Buried yet though I have it. Something of that claustrophobia just inhibiting me... will get around to it. This definitely has horror, but you'll find yourself enjoying it rather than being afraid.
Sigh Sajid Khan should have never been allowed to make films! I went for Housefull 2 and came home dejected with a nasty headache.

And thanks for sharing some info on these horror films. Might watch it with my hubby.
Ritika said…
This is the very reason I lost interest in Indian cinema and TV. Same old boring saas bahu drama. I mean its been more than a decade and the drama just refuses to change :/

PS : Have you watched Orphan and The Uninvited ? I couldnt guess the ending till the last 10 minutes !
jaish_vats said…
Second review I am reading this week about The Cabin in the Woods...The first one was also full of praise!
Roshan said…
I gave up on Sajid Khan movies... let it earn in crores, just goes to show poor taste.

And in a way, only the first one is true horror, The second is a drama/thriller while the third is a purely creepy psychological thriller - again, the last two have no major bloodshed r gore.
Roshan said…
Watched both... and yes, I never saw the twist coming in The Orphan. Believe me, watch this. There is gore and bloodshed, but its more as an homage to 80s thrillers before moving on to better aspects and surprises.
Roshan said…
Dont read any more reviews. It'll build unnecessary expectations. The fun is in not expecting too much.
Just pester a friend/you yourself 'get' a copy and yenjoy :)
beingFab said…
I see the trailers of movies like Houseful and I can't imagine which person in their right mind would want to watch 2.5 hours of that!! Anyone who actually wants to watch them doesn't have to worry about brains to leave behind.
One horror movie that had me on edge for days was 'The Exorcist'. No hi-fi graphics and stuff, but still really, really creepy.
Nirvana said…
You know, while I succumb to (*ashamed here*) pressure from the Dilli crowd and the arm twisting by a 9 year old and a 5 year old to watch Ek tha Tiger, what I would have given my right arm to watch was Gangs of Wasseypur.... I mean I get exactly what you are saying here........ Will try and catch atleast this one, thanks to your review!
Roshan said…
There are still a few movies like that - no gore, just an underlying sense of quiet unease that leaves you creeped out . None of the three above are of that variety though. As I mentioned in a comment above, only the first is a true horror movie.

Get Paranomal Activity 3 ( presuming you've seen part 1 ), The Orphanage ( Spanish with subtitles )
Roshan said…
I dont claim to be immune to it.. given the chance , if I wanted to relax, Im sure Id be EK Tha Tigering too.. just that I wish there was a minimum standard of a screenplay attached, rather than just a bunch of sms gags being played out by superstars.
meoww said…
thanks for the review. I was actually racking my brains to watch SOME meaningful cinema for quite some time. i could not bring myself to watch Ek Tha Tiger. Another movie thats currently running on my mind is Barfi..i have an inkling it might be good. atleast thats what the promos made me feel. *fingers crossed*

Cabin in the woods..hmmm..i will definitely catch up on this one.

nice post..
cheers !!
Yes storyline is very important...totally agree. And spot on what you said about Vicky Donor.
Roshan said…
Cabin in the Woods definitely aint meaningful cinema :) Its a fun reworking of what horror films are all about.

For meaningful stuff, go for 'The Secret in their Eyes'.. subtitles yes, but such a well taken movie. Closer home to Hollywood, try The Help ( I'm a Emma Stone fan, so thats a bonus :) )
Roshan said…
I know. Im sure it probably didnt earn 50 crores also, but its a movie thats so much fun, has a relevant message, believable characters, great supporting cast... For that, there aren't any buyers. Instead they make Cocktail and Rowdy Rathore into 100 crore bonanzas
Nirvana said…
tee...hee..hee.....'sms gags'... liked that one!
correct! And cocktail I watched recently. What was that...i mean...same old story..and package isnt new either... seriously it was a hell of a movie. Deepika wears a red bikini and there ! 150 crores! wth! I did not get the courage to watch Rowdy Rathore. Instead I watched the malayalam movie 'Arike' which was refreshing and thought provoking.
Ah I watched Cabin the woods after I read the review on a blog called 'Passion for movies'. I must say I was not disappointed. It was such a unique story..it was a thrill to see the tables turn.

Hindi movies are improving. Go watch Gangs of Wasseypur. It is brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The same things happen in Hollywood too...the same brainless Humour and sad attempts at acting. It is just that such Movies never come to India so we are not aware of them.
Lazy Pineapple
Roshan said…
Have yet to see Arike. will get on it.
Roshan said…
I dont doubt that there are similarly bad movies in Hollywood. But can you imagine the superstars there taking part in movies with no script, just coming on set in foreign countries and deciding on the spur of the moment we'll shoot this internet joke and that sms joke. it would never happen. there is respect for a screenplay.
Gangs of Wasseypur is a perfect example. the way the story weaves together, you know someone has taken a genuine effort on the script. Everyone, critics and general public loved it. Now just check box office collections, compared to a Cocktail/Housefull 2... thats where Bollywood is shooting itself in the foot.

In Hollywood, movies like Paranormal Activity became famous purely through word of mouth. then more and more theatres took the print and screened it. A $40,000 investment ended up into a billion dollar franchise.
You are right-every Indian movie is so predictable. But I enjoyed "Kahani" for the reasons that it was not. I guess very few people actually go to watch a movie for the movie- they go to see the stars and escape from reality in Switzerland or some other fancy locale! But this movie that you have written about seems interesting. I must see it ..!!
(BTW thanks for visiting my blog and about it being a spicy pick-no I was not aware of it- until you told me that is....)
Roshan said…
true..Kahani was another example of a well written movie which had a script. Most movies allow us to escape from reality - but still even in a slapstick comedy, there can be a certain standard right ?