Are there any more frightening words in a horror movie synopsis than “five friends head to a remote cabin”? That phrase has been the starting point for many scary scripts, conjuring up visions of ancient evil life forms, dangerous hillbilly types, mysterious incantations and lines like “No matter what, we have to stay together.”
The “cabin in the woods” genre is decades old, but almost always follows the same formula—five good-looking teens, say, a jock, a stoner, some hot girls, one a brainiac, and a party girl—go to a cabin, only one or two make it home.
The remade Evil Dead shakes up the formula to an extent. In it some handsome people head to an isolated cottage not to drink and party but to help Mia (Jane Levy) kick her addiction to drugs. The details are different, but the outcome—and this isn’t a spoiler, just a statement of fact—is the same and that’s what we like about the genre.
The most well loved “cabin in the woods” movies must be the first two Sam Raimi Evil Dead films. The original, and namesake of the series, was actually shot in a real life abandoned cottage. In it five friends go to a cabin in the woods (sound familiar?), discover a ‘Book of the Dead’ and unleash flesh-possessing demons. It made a star of Bruce Campbell and lead to a sequel, Evil Dead II, another cabin movie that is equal parts silly and scary.
Eli Roth made his directorial debut with Cabin Fever, a movie inspired by real life events. The idea for a film about a group of friends in a (you guessed it!) cabin in the woods, tormented by a flesh-eating virus and homicidal townsfolk, came to him as he worked on a horse farm. “I was cleaning hay out of this barn and got this infection on my face,” he says. The rash got so bad that, “I went to shave and I literally shaved a third of my face off.” It hurt, but he looked at the bright side. “I thought, ‘This is actually going make a great movie one day.’”
Sleepaway Camp—ignore the sequels, although the number two’s title Unhappy Campers is pretty great—sets the action at a summer camp. This gory slasher flick is most notable for a wild twist ending that has been called a “jaw-dropping, tape-rewinding, pause-and-stare-and-call-your-friends-over-to-stare” moment.
Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the kid-friendly Halloween flick “The House With A Clock In Its Walls,” the politics of “Fahrenheit 11/9” and the faux tear-jerkery of “Life Itself.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, Jack Black in “The House With A Clock In Its Walls,” the birth of Trump in “Fahrenheit 11/9,” and the tear-inducing (but not for the reason you think) “Life Itself.”
Richard has a look at Jack “o’-lantern” Black in “The House With A Clock In Its Walls,” the birth of Trump in “Fahrenheit 11/9,” and the tear-inducing (but not for the reason you think) “Life Itself” and the fist-in-your-face stylings of “Assassination Nation” with the CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the kid-friendly Halloween flick “The House With A Clock In Its Walls,” the politics of “Fahrenheit 11/9” and the faux tear-jerkery of “Life Itself.”
That director Eli Roth, he of “Cabin Fever,” the “Hostel” movies and the coiner of the term “torture porn” is making a film about a warlock and a haunted house should come as no surprise. That it is a spooky PG rated movie for kids is. Based on the children’s classic “The House With A Clock In Its Walls” by John Bellairs with illustrations by Edward Gorey, the film stars Jack Black and Cate Blanchett.
The movie begins with 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) losing his parents. Sent to live with his eccentric Uncle Jonathan (Jack Black), a wizard who lives in a rambling old house—the locals call it the “slaughter house”—with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. “There’s a clock in the walls,” he says. “We don’t know what it does, except… something horrible.” It’s a place of wonder and magic, complete with tentacle monsters—“He’s safe as long as he’s fed,” Jonathan assures the youngster—and deadly secrets. “It’s scary,” says Lewis. “I see things out of the corner of my eye and I think Uncle Jonathan is hiding something from me.”
Next door is witch Florence Zimmerman (Blanchett), a friendly face and substitute mother figure for young Lewis. Stumbling into this world of magic Lewis unleashes holy heck when he accidentally awakens Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan), Jonathan’s former best friend and warlock, from the dead. The trio must stop Isaac from locating the sourcing of the house’s mysterious doomsday clock, whose tick-tock is a threat to all of humankind, but the onus is on the preteen. “I can give you the right books, teach you the right spells,” says Jonathan, “but that last 1%, that’s up to you.”
“The House With A Clock In Its Walls” is a fantasy-based thriller with gothic flourishes for kids raised on the “Goosebumps” books. Imagine a mix of “The Addams Family” and “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” and you’ll get the idea. For the most part it is harmless Halloween fun, more spooky than scary, although Isaac’s reanimation scene, complete with white, rotting flesh and stray maggots and the barfing pumpkins may inspire nightmares for the younger set.
Roth pays attention to the details—the set decoration and costumes are terrific—but draws out the action in the first half of the movie. Black and Blanchett chew the scenery and are clearly having fun but the tick-tocking clock seems to be running extra slow in the movie’s set-up scenes.
Once “The House With A Clock In Its Walls” kicks in, it’s good, silly fun, a throwback to the goodtime horror films of 1980s Amblin flicks.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk about the PG-scares of “The House With A Clock In Its Walls,” the politics of “Fahrenheit 11/9,” and the tear-jerking of “Life Itself.”
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at Jennifer Lawrence spy thriller “Red Sparrow,” the 1970s retread “Death Wish” with Bruce Willis and the deliciously venomous “The Party” starring Patricia Clarkson.
Richard and CP24 anchor Nathan Downer have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the Jennifer Lawrence spy thriller “Red Sparrow,” the 1970s retread “Death Wish” with Bruce Willis and the deliciously venomous “The Party” starring Patricia Clarkson.