FYI, I'm working on a spoiler-laden review, but this post is spoiler-FREE. Yes, even this photo, which is from the first scene in the movie and which I post here as an example of the fact that this movie is not what you might think it is.
1) Joss Whedon produced it and co-wrote it. One of my BNAT friends told me this movie was "like a long episode of Buffy
" and while that didn't get me particularly excited (I love Buffy
, but it's a show, not a movie), I have to say I agree. It's very "Joss"-y, particularly if you're familiar with his Buffy the Vampire Slayer
2) Drew Goddard directed it and co-wrote it. This is his first film to direct, but he has written an awful lot of good television, including several episodes of Buffy
, and Lost
3) There are actors you probably love in it, many of whom are nowhere to be seen in the trailers. Let's do a run-down, shall we?
- Superb character actor Richard Jenkins
, probably best known for being the deceased father on Six Feet Under
- Sorkin regular and light of my life Bradley Whitford
, a.k.a. "Lemon Lyman" [NOTE: Jenkins and Whitford are actually main characters, though as I said, you'd never know from the marketing. But to say any more is a spoiler.];
- Chris Hemsworth
, a.k.a. The God of Thunder;
- A Very Special Cameo from a pretty dang big movie star who is a horror icon;
- and a gaggle of actors from the Joss Whedon stable... Fran Kranz
's Topher), who gives what deserves to be a huge breakout performance; Amy Acker
's Illyria and Dollhouse
's Whiskey/Dr. Saunders); and Tom Lenk
(ANDREW!!!!! *ahem* Buffy
4) It's so much more than a horror movie. I've seen people classify it as a comedy with horror elements, but to me that's like saying The Exorcist
is actually a drama with horror elements, and come on. What it IS is a very clever send-up of the conventions of the horror genre that still heartily celebrates those conventions. This movie is seriously nudging into that precious place in my affections where things like Kill Bill
lie. Not even kidding. It's by far the favorite new movie I've seen this year so far, and I would not be a bit surprised to see it in my top 5 at the end of the year. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised to see it at the tippy-top of the list. A lot of folks have compared it to Scream
(aside: can you believe that movie came out SIXTEEN YEARS AGO???), and while the movies are pretty fundamentally different, plotwise, the things they're trying to accomplish are quite similar. The lazy Scream
knock-offs never got that that movie actually loved the movies it was riffing and commenting on (not to mention that it was a genuinely scary movie, with characters you cared about), and soon people started to look at it as the death of the horror genre. This film does something similar, but really kind of reclaims what has always appealed to us about horror, and does it without the name-dropping and checklisting. I'll be very interested to see what future horror projects this movie inspires. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing that would lend itself to imitation, and the end of the movie pretty much rules out sequel possibilities (though Joss could come up with something if he wanted to, I'm sure).
- This movie *is* pretty gory, especially the third act, so if you're a horror-avoider because you can't do blood and viscera, keep that in mind. In fact, the R-rating is well earned for all the usual reasons associated with the genre. But if you don't like horror because the movies are usually pretty stupid, please reconsider seeing this one, because I think you'll be very pleasantly surprised.