I am going to be writing two trailers for this review, one with spoilers, and one without. I feel I can not fully describe my feelings about this movie without going into spoilers, but also want to be able to share my views with people who have not seen it yet. So this version will be spoiler free.
To start, I did like this movie. Do I like it as much as Drew Goddard’s other film, A Cabin in the Woods? Not really, but I still did really like it. The movie is suspenseful as hell. There are multiple moments that surprised me. The movie keeps you on your heels and that is what a thriller should do.
The characters are all mostly very well rounded, and well acted. Jon Hamm gives a solid performance. He does not too many chances to really showcase his talent, but he does exactly what he has to with a supporting role. Jeff Bridges really sells his character well. There are pieces of his character I cannot reveal because it goes into spoiler territory, but I loved everything he did. Chris Hemsworth was tremendous as a Charles Manson like cult leader. He is intense, charming, and horrifying all at the same time. You can see why people would follow him, even if most of what he is saying is crazy.
Cynthia Eviro emerges as a true movie star. She has mostly been known for her role on Broadway thus far, but after starring in this, and also starring in Steve McQueen’s upcoming movie Widows, she is a Hollywood star in the making. Her voice is beautiful, as the movie loves to point out, but her acting is as well. There is a moment near the end where she is talking to Hemsworth’s character, that she actually requested be added and helped write, that is so powerful.
The movie is beautifully shot. Goddard finds creative ways to get the shot he needs in every scene, almost never falling back on the generic shot, reverse shot camera angles. He cleverly uses sweeps and pans to build suspense.
One problem I had was it leaves a few too many pressing questions unanswered. I can not say what those questions are without spoiling, but I was disappointed we didn’t get at least more hints to what the answers are.
It is also a bit longer than it has to be. The runtime is 2 hours and 30 minutes, which isn’t bad, but I feel like they could have shaved a little bit of that time off. It holds on certain scenes longer than it has to. And if they had tightened that up, maybe they would have had more time to focus on the answering questions. Goddard wove this great mystery but left it a bit too mysterious. I like a movie that does not spoonfeed you and leaves a little up to the imagination, but he maybe took that a bit too far here.
The movie feels very Tarintino esque. Tarintino loves to tell fragmented stories were we see the same story from multiple perspectives, and the first two acts of this movie are exactly that. We get introduced to most of the cast, and at the time when it makes the most sense, we get their background and get to see who they really are. It mostly ditches that in the last act though when the suspense is ramped up.
I would recommend skipping the trailer if you haven’t already seen it. After watching the movie, the trailer spoils certain moments of the movie that is treated like a twist. I cannot state what the twist is obviously, but just imagine if, in the trailer for The Hateful Eight, they spoiled that most of the characters in the cottage were working for Channing Tatum’s character and that Tatum was hiding underneath the floor the whole time. What the trailer spoils did not ruin the movie, but it did change it. I was watching the whole movie anticipating the reveal, and it changes how you view a certain character. There are plenty of other twists that are not spoiled, but the things they did spoil, are disappointing still.
Overall, I really liked this movie. Despite a few flaws, I had a great time watching, and look forward to seeing it again. Hopefully, the DVD release will come with some extra scenes that have a couple of hints to the questions the movie set up. I will write a spoiler review and post it at some point tomorrow. I want to take a little bit more time to consider my thoughts on the movie before I do that review.