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DVD reviews: Cabin in the Woods, Woman in the Fifth

Cabin in the Woods

From left, Fran Kranz, Chris Hemsworth and Anna Hutchison in The Cabin in the Woods.

The Cabin in the Woods

(out of four)

To say The Cabin in the Woods isn’t your average horror movie is like observing that King Kong isn’t your average ape.

Even when major plot twists are revealed — as the trailers do — there are so many others left, you have no reason to scream “spoiler!”

That said, you don’t want to know too much in advance about this feature directing debut of Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard. He shares screenwriting credits with fellow genre subverter Joss Whedon.

Better you should be as naïve as are most of our five cabin-bound college kids, one of them played by a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth.

The film’s internal logic may not stand up to close scrutiny, but the intent behind it is rock solid: a horror show that would have impressed even the ancient Greeks, both their warriors and their philosophers.

Let’s just say that if you go down to the woods today, and I mean The Cabin in the Woods, you’re in for more than a big surprise.

Extras include a writer/director/producer commentary and making-of featurettes.

The Woman in the Fifth

Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott Thomas meet in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in The Woman in the Fifth, but that’s about as conventional as this stimulating Paris psychodrama gets.

Hawke’s sullen Tom, an American novelist consumed by doubt and misfortune, chats with Thomas’s mysterious Margit, a translator who seems to include mind-reading among her many talents.

The likely touchstone for writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski is the work of fellow Polish director Roman Polanski. We are never sure if what we are seeing is actually happening, including the nature scenes that Pawlikowski interjects as contrast to the urban jungle — and also as a symbol of man’s animal nature.

As he digs deeper into his situation, with Pawlikowski confidently adding twist upon twist, Tom’s grasp of reality — and ours — becomes ever more tenuous. Yet we remain caught in Pawlikowski’s carefully spun web.

Extras include a director’s interview.

Peter Howell

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