By this time tomorrow I'll have seen Cabin In The Woods. If the tweets I've read from people whose opinion I respect are to be believed, I imagine I'll walk out of my first viewing some time around noon, walk back up to the box office window, plunk down another Hamilton and catch it again. I'm that excited for this movie.
So far I've managed to avoid most full reviews of the film, and what I've read assures me that this is an “open love letter to the horror genre”. Most reviewers have managed to sing the film's praises without delving to deep into the plot details, warning readers it's a movie best gone in to cold.
Yet whenever the rare negative review pops up, the writer feels obligated to spoil key moments in the film. The Village Voice review describes the closing shot of Cabin in the first paragraph. The Hollywood Review spoils a surprise cameo in it's title subheading, effectively dulling its impact (imagine how pissed you be if a review of Zombieland spoiled the voice of Garfield's awesome cameo in its lead). Of course, some writers seem to have watched a different film. As Badass Digest points out in their article discussing the same topic, Rex Reed of the New York Observer describes scenes that don't exist in the film: “Vampire's circle the moon and suck the hot stud's blood”. Perhaps Mr. Reed mixed his notes for an upcoming novel that's a mashup of horror and mommy porn, but no such scene exists in the film (the column’s author Devin Faraci also points out that he's caught Rex catching up on shuteye at many a press screening). Going back further, in the second paragraph of his two-star review of James Gunn's Super Roger Ebert reveals the fate of Ellen Page's sidekick character, spoiling what should have been a shocking moment.
So far I've manged to avoid the above reviews. What galls me is these don't come from the amateur ramblings of your rank and file blogger. These spoiler filled reviews come from professional critics with years' worth of experience under their belts that aught to know better. It's one thing for your average schmoe banging out a review during a break from his mind numbing office job to type the review equivalent of a grade school “What I Did On Summer Vacation” essay (for example: “First the characters showed up at the cabin in the woods. Then the killer showed up. Then the kids got killed one at a time in gruesome ways. Then the last girls discovers the killer is her long assumed dead cousin. Then she kills him and gets away. The gore was awesome.” ). It still makes for a crappy read, and really why do you want to run an article that's little more than a Netflix envelope synopsis stretched out of eight hundred words, but it's almost understandable. While I count our band of merrymen among that group, since we've earned negative dollars doing this, I'd like to think we act with a modicum of professionalism.
What I can't fathom is why someone paid to cover films would take such a hackneyed and lazy approach as to just blurt out on the page key moments. It's as if they can't comprehend why a film has garnered such positive press and have nothing in their arsenal except to ruin it for those who haven't had the chance to see it for themselves, thus tempering audience enthusiasm before setting foot in the theater. Not that every film relies on going into it as cold as possible to enjoy it, but film's like Cabin In The Woods make an implicit agreement with its audience: You come into it thinking you know what's going to happen, and we're going to twist those expectations every which way until your head is spinning.
I understand that it's impossible to discuss a film without mentioning specific events that occur, but one can make an argument for a work, both in the positive and negative, without revealing key moments or twists that rely on the element of surprise to work. It's a big fuck you to their readerships: “If I can't enjoy something, then you most certainly will not either.” I can only imagine the smug look on the face of Mark Olsen when he hits send on a review that can't get past the first sentence without giving out the final shot. “That'll show 'em.” It's possible that the tactic comes from a place of feeling pissed off that other people are enjoying something someone else missed the boat on or point of, and it's simply a way to lash out. In the case of Cabin, there seems to be a disconnect between those that enjoyed the film and understood what Goddard and Whedon were hoping to do in tweaking the horror genre on the nose, and those who didn't think it was as clever as other by half. It's in this divide that those speaking out against the film are divulging the surprises left best unsaid.
So here's my simple, urgent plea to those of you who draw a paycheck doing this: Stop doing this. I can't make it much simpler that that. When the urge hits, shut the keyboard, have a tall, cold beverage of your choice, then come back when your head is clear. This will lower your chances of being torn asunder by angry fanboys by 99.99 percent.