The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

A victory for the fans or a PR stunt?

with 35 comments

It was close to that The Cabin in the Woods never came up in a theatre in Sweden.

Or was it?

The story is that the distribution company had decided that the market for this film was too small in Sweden and planned for a release straight to DVD in the autumn.

This infuriated the local Joss Whedon fans, who immediately started a campaign in social media to make them change their minds. And apparently this paid off. It didn’t take too long before the film opened in a limited release at a couple of theatres, which after a few weeks was expanded to include smaller cities like mine.

Having dipped my toes in PR myself I’m suspicious. Could it be that all of this is just a clever marketing campaign? Was it a stunt to increase the interest and willingness in the fan base to spread the word? After all, shortage of supply is one of the most effective and commonly used tricks when you want to increase the demand for a product.

Or perhaps I’m overly cynical? Maybe I owe it to the wheadonists that they made this movie available also in this remote part of the world?

Regardless of which, I’m glad that I finally got the chance to see it.

More comedy than horror
This post will be short since I don’t want to say too much about it. As you probably know already, it’s one of those spoiler sensitive movies that get better the less you know about them on beforehand. I’ve spent months fighting to remain unknowing about the content of the film and I don’t want to spoil it for someone else who lives in a region still waiting for it to come out.

The question is what I can say without saying anything.

Well, one thing is that I’m not on board with how the film is labeled at IMDb. They call it horror and thriller, and it is, but perhaps even more than this I’d call it a comedy.

As I’ve said before I’m a bit of a squishy, but in this case my hands rested safely in my knee instead of popping up covering my face, and as we left the theatre I was giggling and not the slightest worried about the possibility that I’d have nightmares about it.

I wouldn’t call the effects bad or anything, but the entire idea is so over-the-top that it never gets truly scare or uncomfortable.

It should also be said also that the film is teaming with references to other horror movies. I recognized a few, but the majority went passed me. However I wouldn’t advise anyone against watching it just because you’re not a horror fan. It’s enjoyable anyone, at least if you like me are a fan of Buffy the Vampire slayer. This reminded me of some of the meatier episodes, with the combination of thriller and comedy. The difference is of course that with a running time of 1,5 hours and a lot of action, you can’t afford to spend much time on giving depth to the characters on screen. But that’s no big loss in this type of movie. You know what kind of a ride you’re in for.

It’s about having fun. And so I did.

The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard, US, 2012) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

June 26, 2012 at 1:00 am

35 Responses

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  1. I’d also add (without spoilers) that giving the characters more depth would seem to run counter to a lot of what the film set up with them in the first place.

    • Indeed. They’re more or less place holders, and that’s all you expect them to be.

      Jessica

      June 26, 2012 at 7:34 am

  2. The thing about that horror/thriller tag is that I always assumed you had to be a horror maven to enjoy it to full effect. Someone uninterested in horror might not get that it’s spoofing hundreds of other horror films, and making fun of the sorry state of current horror. I could be way off base there.

    As for the marketing schtick, it’s very possible, but I’m inclined to believe that their initial stance- going straight to DVD in Sweden- was the real deal. This film had a hard enough time getting a release in the States.

    John

    June 26, 2012 at 3:47 am

    • Yea, wasn’t it a finished product like 2 years ago or something?

    • Well again: I’m not a keen horror fan and my guess is that I caught about 20 percent of all the references, if even that many. But the few I caught was enough to make me smile. I do think that you could enjoy this without catching any to be honest.

      It’s possible that you’re right about not releasing it being the real deal. Perhaps the distributors didn’t get what a fanbase Whedon has here. I saw that at least for a week or two the movie was at spot 7 on theo top 10 list in Sweden, which isn’t bad considering that even the wider release was limited.

      And the film does seem to do alright at the box office. It has already returned more than the cot to make it. It’s sad when film companies don’t believe in their own products. It certainly doesn’t make them easier to sell.

      Jessica

      June 26, 2012 at 7:38 am

  3. I wouldn’t put it past PR companies… they are one step away from Estate Agents and Car Salesmen in their trickery!! (being a former car salesmen, I know the tricks!)

    Cabin is one of my films of the year, I knew very little about it going in, in fact I wish I knew less than I did. But that final act is absolutely bonkers and madness!!

    Sorry for my absence since Wednesday, I have been on a little holiday!!

    Back now.

    • Welcome back Scott! I hope you had a nice vacation. I’ll go away in a couple of weeks time myself and then I’ll probably have a few weeks of break here. I’m impressed how you can keep things running.

      I loved the final act of Cabin. My daughter thought it went a little bit too crazy, but I think she wanted to take the film seriously, which I didn’t do at all. We both enjoyed ourselves on the whole though.

      I usually see movies on my own, but for this one I tried to get company since horror and comedy both are better if you’re in a party.

      Jessica

      June 26, 2012 at 10:34 am

      • Saw i yesterday cause that the movie came to a smaller city. The reason for this is that SF has been digitalized their system so the case to see other movies than the usual blockbusters has increased significantly 🙂
        The movie? I loved it! My thoughts are coming soon.

        filmitch

        June 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm

        • Great to hear that you liked it too! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it.

          Jessica

          June 26, 2012 at 1:54 pm

  4. I’m glad you got to see it at least. It’s definitely a comedy, and a pretty good one too. Don’t feel bad, I live in a small town in America and sometimes we don’t get popular indie films screened here. Even more seldom to we get Swedish movies 😉

    Dusty

    June 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    • Yeah, I whine a bit about how I miss out movies or get them late, but when I compare to people who live in rural America I notice that I get to see a great deal more in cinema, especially European film. I’m fortunate enough to still have access to a small, independent cinema specialiced in indie and foreign movies in my city. It really brings us a lot of diversity.

      Jessica

      June 26, 2012 at 1:56 pm

  5. I’ve been surprised to hear that Cabin in the Woods isn’t showing in other countries too. It is a smart way for a PR company to generate buzz for a screening if that’s the case. Instead of just pushing the movie and showing it, they turn it into more of an event. Well-played. I’m glad you enjoyed the movie. I went in knowing little and had a great time with it.

    Dan

    June 26, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    • Even if it wasn’t an intentional PR trick, I think it’s one that could be used. But you need to be pretty sure there is a fanbase out there in that case.

      Jessica

      June 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm

  6. I think what you’ve touched on, even in a few responses to this -might- have been the intention, I call it the ‘test the water’ clout. It’s a theory of PR I’ve heard more with hardware (apple etc. . .) than elsewhere but the idea is you put the information out there and see how the reaction is.

    Depending on the timing, particularly if it was a fast turnaround on opinion (this is usually the key identifier between what I think of as success activism and PR) Nintendo for exampled relented on an American release of Xenoblade after months of some of the strongest and most unqiue methods I’ve ever seen and it still took them months to regionalize and release it despite having already translated the game in English for British/European audiences.

    After a rather extensive backlash about Michael Bay’s Ninja Turtles movie, the stuido announced the cancellation, but it took -months- because for a turnaround like this to happen, it has to go through a ton of committees, get signed, resigned, redone, remanufactured, relabelled, rebranded, stamped for approval, and then pushed out the door. If the turnaround is 2 weeks, they sat there ready with this in case there was a turnaround.

    Perhaps they knew there’d be a response or market but not how large, perhaps they had to prove to investors the demand the was there, etc. . .

    Either awy I’m not sure how long between the ‘outcry’ and the ‘okay we’ll show it’ happened, but I think that would be most indicative of how prepared for this response they were. Though perhaps a bigger tell would be to try to contact the first cinemas it went to and see if they’d been asked to hold a slot open in case or something.

    • I think you’re onto something there. Perhaps it is as you say not one way or the other; there might be a third, middleway, that they’re actually testing the waters. The more I think of it, the more sense does it make.

      Jessica

      June 26, 2012 at 10:09 pm

      • I am can be smart sometimes! But don’t let it get around, then expectations get high, then when I fail, I cry and go hug an Alamo plushie, quite sad really.

  7. Loved this movie. I have a feeling it may end up in my top 10 at the end of the year. It was so much fun and as a horror geek I loved all the refrences and homages. Very refreshing movie, I agree a bit more comedy than horror. It was also awesome to see Richard Jenkins here, he can do no wrong.

    sati

    June 27, 2012 at 1:13 am

    • I’m not sure if it will end up on my top 10 for the entire year, but perhaps in my top 20. Absolutely refreshing, even though it’s basically rehashing a lot of horror films. 🙂

      Jessica

      June 27, 2012 at 11:13 am

  8. PR companies can do strange things to try and get what they want out of a situation. I wouldn’t put it past them in this instance.

    As a Buffy fan myself too, I can definitely agree that this does feel like a bigger and meatier Buffy episode. What I love is that it reminded me how brilliant the dialogue in Buffy was. So witty and snappy. Not a single wasted word in this film.

    Loved the cast, loved the horror film references. Definitely one of my favourite films of the year so far.

    Jaina

    June 27, 2012 at 11:10 am

    • Buffy fan gathering, yay!
      To be honest I would neve have thought of watching Buffy if it wasn’t for my teenage daughter who loved it. She got me watching and it turned into a little project of ours (she had the entire series, all the boxex).

      Shame to say I haven’t watched Firefly. But I have it at home and I’ll make a change of that this summer I hope.

      Jessica

      June 27, 2012 at 11:16 am

  9. Finally! Great to hear that you have seen the movie. And you loved it! I am neither a big user of horror flicks, but i felt totally comfortable, yes I even dare to say safe, in Joss hands. Joss was the puppet master, I was the marionette.

    Now, we can talk about the whole thing the next time we meet up with Filmspanarna. There is so much to talk about and very hard not to spoil the experience for the ones that haven’t seen it yet.

    Some thoughts in my review (written in Swedish):
    http://fripp21.blogspot.com/2012/06/cabin-in-woods-2012.html

    Henke

    June 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    • We’ll make an investigation who’s seen it or who is pondering on seeing it and then we’ll place ourselves so that we can geek out over it without ruining for someone who’s still planning to see it. It’s definitely worth some nerdgasms!

      Jessica

      June 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm

  10. Wow, I guess I’m pretty lucky living in Dublin where pretty much everything hits the cinemas. Apparently my city has the world’s highest rate of cinema-going. I always find it weird how so many movies only get a New York/LA release stateside.

    themoviewaffler

    June 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    • I had no idea Dublin was such a Mecca for movie lovers! Congratulations!

      Jessica

      June 27, 2012 at 8:17 pm

  11. Jessica, I loved this movie!!! I cackled like a little schoolboy finding a frog!! Or in this case, whatever monstrous thing you can find in the woods! Glad you enjoyed it! And remember, “Don’t Read the Latin”!!

    Karl Kaefer

    June 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    • I bet you did!
      And no, I hope I’d be clever enough not to insist on reading latin in mystical books. 🙂

      Jessica

      June 27, 2012 at 8:17 pm

  12. Great post as always, Jess 🙂 I’m really looking forward to this one.
    Hope it opens over here in my neck of the woods soon.

    fernandorafael

    June 30, 2012 at 8:31 am

  13. […] men liknande åsikter om filmen: Henke, Jessica och […]

  14. I had trouble getting into Cabin in the woods, maybe the humour didn’t appeal or something. I think all the inside jokes would work better for horror movie buffs. I feel I ought to have enjoyed it, but ended up only liking the terrific conclusion.

    Chris

    July 2, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    • I’m not a horror movie buff either but it worked for me anyway (though I’m sure it would have worked even better if I’d seen more horror movies). I think it helped that I like Buffy and that kind of humor. I just thought it was very funny. And yes, the conclusion… priceless!

      Jessica

      July 2, 2012 at 11:51 pm

  15. I went in the movie knowing nothing about it and I was very pleasantly surprised.

    I’d say the first three quarters are horror and from there on it’s more of a comedy. It worked for me, I was scared when they wanted me to be scared and laughed when they wanted me to laugh.

    carrandas

    August 20, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    • Glad you enjoyed it! I’m sure it will appear on my top list of 2012.

      Jessica

      August 21, 2012 at 12:19 am

  16. […]   The Cabin in the Woods More fun than scary was this film, which I still refuse to talk about at length due to its spoiler sensitive nature. I’m not particularly knowledgeable in the horror genre, but I still enjoyed it immensely. […]


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