Rain soaked and defined the first day of SXSW 2012, slowing traffic, drenching attendees, and making me seriously question my decision to walk six blocks without an umbrella. (Who knew it could rain so hard that pockets inside your clothing would be squishy?) Once attendees were able to get out of the cold rain and into theaters, all eyes turned to the films themselves.
At the historic Paramount Theatre in downtown Austin, 1200 people crowded into the building, eager to see the opening night presentation, the official world premiere of a film that’s been long-awaited and shrouded in secrecy. From all accounts, the wait was worth it. Our own Peter Hall says “The Cabin in the Woods is one of the most unforgettable horror movies you will ever see” -- his review explains why, as best he can without spoiling things -- and his opinion was widely shared. Here are some of the responses, sampled from Twitter:
@LaneLaw: “CABIN IN THE WOODS is definitely a worthy kick off to #SXSW2012.”
@ScottEWeinberg: “CABIN IN THE WOODS just played to rapturous applause and buzzing excitement. They loved it. #sxsw.”
@akstanwyck (Anne Thompson): “#SXSW2012 cabin in the woods is as funny outrageous + genre deconstructing as critics said it was. Worth waiting for. Too smart to be hit?”
@EricDSnider: “CABIN IN THE WOODS: ohhhhhhh man, this thing is great. I want to make out with it. #sxsw.”
@Matt Dentler: “‘Cabin in the Woods’ is a lot of fun. Deserves to be a big hit and maybe even a franchise. #scream.”
@RylandAldrich: “THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is a hilarious horror comedy. It's extremely enjoyable and an all around well made movie. #SXSW.”
@hlkneedler (Lane Kneedler): “CABIN IN THE WOODS will be a really fun thing to tell unsuspecting rubes to watch for years & years.”
While all that was going on, screenings were also starting up at other venues. At the multiplex / restaurant known as Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, three screens are dedicated to SXSW. Of the three films I saw there last night, all were well attended -- at least two were sold out -- but only one featured the inimitable Bobcat Goldthwait.
The former stand-up comedian is turning into an accomplished filmmaker; God Bless America (watch trailer) is a dark comedy, a scathing indictment of America’s current coarse culture, one that encourages and celebrates the insensitive and mean. As Goldthwait said in the post-screening Q & A, it’s really a plea for everyone to be kinder to one another.
The film debuted at the Toronto film festival last fall; since then Goldthwait has edited the film further, adding some footage and removed others. We saw the finalized version, which will be available via various Video On Demand platforms next month and then receive a limited theatrical release. Goldthwait wrote the screenplay at the suggestion of his wife, who suggested he channel his anger into a script rather than pick up a gun and start shooting people.
Other films receiving good buzz included Thale, a Norwegian folk tale featuring a mythical creature with a tail, and [REC]3: Genesis, which introduces a new, more comic tone to the Spanish zombie series -- and also strays from its roots in the found-footage sub-genre.