May 1, 2012 -- Usually I avoid horror films and reality TV. This is a horror film that has some reality TV elements, but it is getting good reviews so I went to see it. I saw why it is getting good reviews. This horror-reality movie is extremely well-crafted. It has some humor to go with all the mayhem and the story keeps you guessing for a while.
This self-aware film plays games with the well-worn horror movie story idea about a group of teenagers in a remote forest cabin being picked off one at a time by killer zombies. Usually, in such films, teens go off into the woods by themselves and do other risky things for no particular reason. This film provides some interesting explanations for this kind of risky behavior. In this film there are people in a control room watching everything and using various chemicals and devices to manipulate the behavior of the youths in the cabin.
The youths in the cabin are playing a game of life and death, but they are unaware what the game is or who is behind it. A number of people are watching the events in the remote cabin as well as other events in other places around the world where similar games are being played with people's lives. What is happening in the cabin is part of a much larger plan involving untold millions of people.
The explanation for why all these people being put through these elaborate deadly games is ridiculous, but the basic story works well enough and the ending is satisfying. It helps that the acting is solid, especially by the two main control room guys, Richard Jenkins of “The Visitor” and Bradley Whitford of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” There is even a cameo by Sigourney Weaver, who plays a character similar to the one she played in the science fiction comedy “Paul.”
The youths in the cabin are Dana (played by Kristen Connolly “Revolutionary Road”) Curt (Chris Hemsworth of “Thor”) Jules (Anna Hutchison) Marty (Fran Kranz of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules”) and Holden (Jesse Williams of “Brooklyn's Finest”). One of the funny touches is a zombie-killing collapsible bong. There is also the humorous notion that the only person in his right mind in the cabin is a stoner whose drug use frustrates the control room people who are trying to control him with behavior-altering chemicals.
The ending of the movie is particularly pleasing for people like me who hate reality TV. It reminded me a little of the anarchy celebrated in such films as “Fight Club,” “V for Vendetta” and “Escape from Los Angeles.” I wish there had been an ending like this for “The Hunger Games,” but it wasn't that clever. The film is an odd blend of science fiction and the supernatural. I would have liked it a lot better without the supernatural elements, which are totally unbelievable. Even with that problem, this is a good movie with a lot going for it. It rates a B.
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