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Cabin In The Woods: Intellectual Post-Modern Horror

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Poster from Alamo Drafthouse Reviews and essays abound for Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon's Cabin In The Woods. Some compare Cabin to Scream while others are convinced that Cabin exceeds Scream as a post-modern text. We belong to the latter camp. If you haven't seen Cabin then you shouldn't be looking at reviews so long after the the film's release.
In 1996 Wes Craven along with a brilliantly written script by Kevin Williamson breathed new life into the slasher film. They took all of the archetypical constructs of the slasher sub-genre and directly exposed them to the audiences while staying within the confines of the genre. This was not new, parodies had done this in the past, but Scream kept a straight face and managed to produce fear. Spoof and parody of horror has been around since the days of Abbot & Costello, but more direct to our discussion is the 1982 classic Student Bodies. Made in the midst of the early 80's slasher boom, Student Bodies, feature…

Top 11 Horror Films Of 2011

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Welcome to our first list.  2011 was a great year for horror, maybe not mainstream horror but the independent and foreign markets made up for it.  We saw for the most part an uprising of the absurd.  Films that may not be strictly canonized as horror filled the gaps simply because they had no set genre.


Our list features no remakes, but interestingly enough two sequels, a parody, and a slew of homage films.  While other lists include Attack The Block, and The Dead our writers were slacking on that front.  Stay tuned, we may have to amend our list.  Without further digression here is the CineNiche top 11 of 2011.


11.) Paranormal Activity 3
The Catfish guys were tapped to make a follow up film for the Paranormal franchise and came up with another prequel.  This marks the only trilogy to ever work backwards.  The scares are made more intense by the total lack of newer technology.  The story, even with a few plot holes, deepens the mythology of the series.  This is a must for fans of the sup…

Who Directed Red State?

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Red State does not feel like a Kevin Smith film at all.  Since leaving and reuniting and leaving his View Askew universe Smith has not been able to find his own voice.  Zach & Miri Make A Porno felt as though it rode on the coat tails of the Judd Apatow empire and here in Red State Smith seems to have made a Tarantino Cohen Brothers film.  While Smith has always infused a bit of politics within his films, here he does so in ample amounts.


To give away the plot would spoil the uneven thrills that populate the film, but to say the film digs at the Westboro church is an understatement.  Tarantino veteran, Michael Parks, gives us long winded but perfectly acted monologues about the fire and brimstone God who hates homosexuals and seeks the fear of his wrath.  Red State feels more like a political novel rather than a film.  Each character we believe to be the main protagonist works only to lead us to the next chapter.  This doesn't allow us to feel for anyone in particular but aids …

Friends With Kids: Why?

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Normally we here at CineNiche have standards, but on this particular day we were roped into this one.  Jennifer Westfeldt wrote, directed, and stared in this slightly amusing rom-com that offers you and hour and a half of fulfilled expectations.


The moment Friends With Kids starts you already know the end, and as usual the perfectly acceptable retort to this type of film is that it is all about the journey.  The only trouble with stock answers is that they normally come attached to sub par films.


The journey Friends With Kids offers is the very American institution of monogamy.  From the offset we have two best friends who sleep around in an attempt to find, "the one," this is not their fault because popular culture dictates that soulmates exist so we cannot foul them for their search.  What comes next is the fundamental flaw of having a child - not that child rearing is a flaw but the instilled notion that it is what one is supposed to do, is.  Having not yet acquired a perfe…

It's a mutant baby & It's Alive

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Larry Cohen is not known for style, nor gruesome effects, or even good horror.  Most of his films can be easily overlooked and have been.  He's not likely to acquire a lifetime achievement award or any accolades for horror.  He has made a better name for himself in the last decade as a screenwriter of a few mainstream hits such as Phone Booth and Cellular, and while these films make him more money than anything he directed they don't have the power of his horror fare.  His directed films speak volumes about society.  Comparisons can be drawn between Cohen and Romero in this regard, but Cohen is often a bit more subtle.


Cohen began his filmmaking career interestingly enough working within the blacksploitation sub-genre.  His first feature film was Bone made in 1972, then Black Caesar in 1973.  As all the films within the sub-genre they featured a dominate black male figure.  Bone  is a thug who breaks into a white couple's home and hyjinks ensue, all the while commenting on …

David Fincher's Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

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David Fincher's eccentric film resume gives him the upper hand in this needless remake.  The tone of the film is in perfect balance with last years Social Network.  In the future people will discuss the pre Social Network era of Fincher and the post as if one film divided his work.  There is a sense of authorship in Alien 3, The Game, Seven, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac, and Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.  Each of his films relied heavily on inventive cinematography, whether it was amazingly orchestrated movements of the camera or his ability to light his scenes in a way to aide in character development.  There is a contrast on the celluloid that cannot easily be explained - a mysterious secret ingredient that allows for an immediate identification that the film is indeed a Fincher creation.


The Social Network is Fincher's transitory film within his oeuvre.  The cinematography and lighting are the same, while less extravagant.  It was the inclusion of Trent Reznor and Attic…

The Fly: Cronenberg's Abject World Of Mutation

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David Cronenberg's take on the 1958 classic The Fly is remarkable.  In the original we simply have a science gone awry parable, whereas the remake offers us a god complex and a philosophy on decomposition as only Cronenberg can.


Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is a reclusive scientist who has been working on the theory and practice of teleportation for six years and the moment his dreams come true, a nightmare is created.


Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) is a reporter that chats up Brundle at a science convention.  She finds him charming and decides to go home with him.  Once they arrive at Brundle's loft/lab/home their fates are sealed.  To impress her, he teleports her stocking across the room.  This is the beginning of the end for Brundle.


He pushes his experiments further and faster to continue to impress Veronica.  When he is finally able to teleport a Baboon without it turning inside out Brundle understands it is only a matter of time before his contribution to science will chang…

Play Misty For Me: A Cautionary Tale

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From his roots as the stranger with no name, to Inspector Harry Callahan, to various secret service men, to his turn in Gran Torino no one can deny that Clint Eastwood is an American icon.


It doesn't matter what taste you have in film, Clint has spiced them all either as an actor or as a director.  In 1971 he was given carte blanche to fulfill his dream of filmmaking.  The studio only asked for him to defer his acting wage which he did without a second thought.  Eastwood's thriller was lensed in 21 days and marked a complete departure from all the work he had accomplished previously.  Clint delved into the world of obsession and penance seemingly without effort.


Clint's onscreen persona Dave is a locally famed radio D.J. who has had his ample fill of women, to which he left them all in the dust, except for Tobie (Donna Mills).  Dave believes he has finally reformed, he's willing to give up his playboy ways and settle down to a nice monogamous relationship.  The only prob…

Sexy Beast or How To Deconstruct A Heist Film

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Jonathan Glazer's feature film debut is a gem to behold.  If you ever had a doubt about Ben Kingsly this is the role he was born for.


In most of heist cinema you have a formula to follow:


1.) The Pitch: this is the who, what, and where of the scheme.
2.) The Roundup: you must collect the right thieves for the job.
3.) Planning: meticulous scouting and preparation that sometimes crosscuts into the action.
4.) The Job: self explanatory (the action we were waiting for)
5.) The Getaway: usually if everything else has worked out this is the step in which everything goes to hell.


Sexy Beast spends most of the film in The Roundup stage leaving only a fraction to the rest of the formula.  Glazer is able to take the genre and turn it on its axis - to find new truths in old cliches.  While he doesn't pander to recreating the wheel as Tarantino did with Reservoir Dogs, he is able to use the formula to delve into character and drama - two things sometimes missing in heist cinema.


If you're ex…

The Soderberghian Contagion

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This is our formal declaration: Steven Soderbergh is not an autuer.  While others may have already came to this decision, we had hope.  With a director like Soderbergh with around 27 titles under his belt we had assumed there may be some subtle nuance of authorial style, some flourish that when seen one can say, "oh, there's that Soderbergh moment."  This is not to say there is no merit to his work, and overall we find his films enjoyable, but his mainstream fare is only entertaining the first time.  Contagion is no different.


We at CineNiche believe Contagion to be a more horrific rendering of Wolfgang Peterson's Outbreak.  We were drawn to Contagion not by the overwhelmingly star studded cast, but by the theme of apocalypse.  Of course we had assumed the film would play out like the awesome first half of The Stand and on a lesser scale it does.  It creates a world of palpable paranoia while trying to maintain the logistics of an epidemic.  Unfortunately the two are …