Tag Archives: Jodelle Ferland

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Fast-paced, gory, and with a razor-sharp sense of humor, “The Cabin in the Woods” borrows elements from older horror films and twists them around, making them its own. Never since “Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil” have I seen such originality and creative scriptwriting in a modern horror-comedy.

“The Cabin in the Woods” is truly a marvel to watch, and stands as an excellent addition to co-writer Joss Whedon’s repertoire. The plot starts out “typical” and soon reveals itself to be a lot murkier (and more awesome) than it initially seemed.

Five friends- innocent Dana (Kristen Connolly), “cool dude” Curt (Chris Hemsworth), slutty Jules (Anna Hutchinson), amusing pothead Marty (Fran Kranz), and sensitive guy Holden (Jesse Williams) go off on a trip to a cabin in the woods. Marty quickly establishes himself as my favorite, with his pseudo-profound pot-addled ramblings and surprising perceptiveness.

But wait! Something is amiss! As the gang break the various rules of horror-film etiquette (Don’t have sex. Don’t go in the basement. Don’t wander off…) they find themselves fighting for their lives. But it gradually becomes clear that a lot more then the lives of a couple of college kids may be at stake.

Naturally, the pothead gets all the best lines from the very beginning, Marty establishes himself as a humorously addled and continuously likable presence, even if half the time you don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. The acting is good, not extraordinary but decent, particularly for this kind of movie.

One of my favorite character actors, Richard Jenkins, is here as an ethically dodgy and somewhat dirty old man. The script is funny, cool, and sometimes willfully ludicrous, as characters get bear traps in the back and somehow get up with little to no permanent injuries.

“The Cabin in the Woods” is definitely worth a watch to anyone who wants to see a new twist on an old story. You actually root for these kids to live, which is a rare occurrence in a dead-teenager movie. The script is often funny, sometimes hysterical, and worth a go for the killer-unicorn sequence alone. My professional opinion? Watch it, and don’t take it too seriously.

The Tall Man AKA The Secret (2012)

The  theme of the ‘wronged mama bear,’ where every mother’s worst fear is realized, stands as a common trope in horror and thriller films, and “The Tall Man” is no exception. This is better than “Flightplan,” thank God, and puts a new spin on the worn theme of the child being snatched from the arms of the protective parent. Above all, it sports a pretty wicked twist, one that is unpredictable without being totally out there or ludicrous.

I never would have picked up this movie if it weren’t for director Pascal Laugier’s previous film “Martyrs.” The trailer to “The Tall Man” looked to be in kind of lame standard thriller-ish territory, so I decided to avoid it. When I finally got to watching it, I was pleasantly surprised. This is a well written, directed, and acted movie.

Content-wise this isn’t even in the same ballpark as “Martyrs,” although I did see it got a nice ‘R’ rating from the MPAA. “The Tall Man” stars Jessica Biel as Julia, a nurse who seems to serve as a friend, neighbor, and basically a helping hand to everyone in the small town of Cold Rock, Washington. The children of Cold Rock are being abducted by a mysterious force known as the “The Tall Man,” disappearing without a trace and baffling the local police force.

Julia has a son, David (Jakob Davies,) and periodically visits local woman Tracy (Samantha Ferris) and her teenage daughters, Carol (Katherine Ramdeen) and silent Jenny (Jodelle Ferland.) Tracy’s boyfriend Steven (Teach Grant) impregnated Carol and menaces Julia when she comes to the house to check on the infant. He oozes class.

When David is taken from Julia, Julia will do anything to get the boy back. The cool thing about this movie is that it takes you one one way and then- *BAM*-it steers you in a completely different direction. I won’t tell you if the crimes of ‘The Tall Man’ are supernatural or not, because what would be the fun of that?

Suffice to say it’s fresh and exciting, Biel makes a adequate scream queen, and Jodelle Ferland is great as always. Jakob Davies (as the son) can’t really act and settles on being mildly perturbed, but give him time. The supporting cast is good too. Samantha Ferris and Colleen Wheeler, as the mother of one of the disappeared kids are the standouts.

One of the problems with the script is that Julia seems at parts to be too much of a ‘supermom.’ Between battling an attack dog and clinging to (and being dragged by) a abductor’s van, it’s a wonder this woman has the energy to get up in the morning. Altogether, though, this is a sadly underrated and overlooked horror/thriller.

Tideland (2005)

“Tideland,” Terry Gilliam’s fantastical horror brain child, is an undeniably original, unmistakably repulsive journey into the life and mind of one troubled little girl (Jodelle Ferland.) To say it outstays it’s welcome it an understatement, the film clocks at over two hours and leaves an undeniably bad taste in one’s throat. The characters are hard to comprehend, much less like or understand.

All this would be bad enough without the bizarre intro by Terry Gilliam, who vaguely informs us that children ‘bounce back’ from situations such as these and tells us ‘don’t forget to laugh.’ But what is there to laugh at in a disgusting horror show such as this?  it’s as if Dave Peltzer of ‘A Child Called It’ fame had promised us a knee-slapping good time.

Between the role of Jeff Bridges as the girl’s junkie father, who sits down in a chair to shoot up, dies, and spends the majority of the movie in various states of decomposition, our prepubescent heroine trading ‘silly kisses’ and sexual curiousness with a mentally retarded man (Brendon Fletcher,) and Daddy (prior to his death) instructing his daughter to prepare heroin for him, I found very little to laugh at in this revolting freak show.

The fact that Gilliam expects us to laugh and see this whole travesty through the eyes of a child speaks volumes on the man’s mental stability. What does he think we are? Animals. Sub-human cretins who are all-too-eager and willing to laugh at the mental and psychological destruction of a child? Apparently, if Gilliam should have his way, we will be laughing at child endangerment through the eyes of that child, oblivious to the adult consequences of such atrocities. Mmm-kay.

After her harpy mother (Jennifer Tilly) O.D.’s Jeliza-Rose (Ferland), ten or eleven or so, is swept away from the squalid tenement she calls home by her druggie father (Bridges,) and tries her best to adjust to her new home in her father’s childhood house on the massive prairie, far away from anything. When Dad dies, Jeliza-Rose acts much as if he was alive, talking to his corpse and exploring the prairie, where she meets local freak Dell (Janet McTeer) and her brain-damaged brother, Dickens (Fletcher.)

Dell, who as it happens, bangs the stuttering grocery delivery boy (Dylan Taylor) in exchange for food, takes a liking to Jeliza-Rose and invites her and her doll heads (Jeliza-Rose frequently talks through her collection of severed doll’s heads, did I mention that?) to live in her and Dickens’ family home.

“Tideland” often references Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ as Jeliza-Rose ‘falls down the rabbit hole’ from one bizarre situation to another. Although technically well-made in many respects, “Tideland” is yucky, overlong, and had me begging for it to end by the halfway point.

Jodelle Ferland turns in pretty good performance as Jeliza-Rose (although I found her Southern accent exaggerated) and Brendan Fletcher gives a decent supporting performance as Dickens (who, through no fault of his own, reminded me a bit of Ben Stiller’s ‘Simple Jack’) but overall the film is a fail. I would recommend you watch “Alice” by Jan Svankmajer as a dark take on “Alice in Wonderland” rather than this. It is less sickening and doesn’t make you feel like you’re watching for hours on end, but hey, that’s just me.