The Cabin in the Woods

Like a breath of fresh air through a musty room.

Poking good-natured fun at horror film tropes, this blast of gore-encrusted hijinks delights on first viewing thanks to its twists and turns, but also holds up to repeat examination.

Its sardonic sense of humor carries the day, but the film also works as a lovingly-crafted tribute to the run-and-shriek films which came before – some good, a lot really bad.

The more films you’ve seen where teenagers are bedeviled by maniacs of all shapes and sizes, the deeper the jokes hit.

Turn the lights down low, and let the carnage ensue.

Bad Times at the El Royale

Trust no one.

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, has a hidden agenda in this crackerjack mystery.

They all end up camped out at the El Royale, a ritzy but fading hotel which sits smack-dab on the border between 1969 California and Nevada.

One part of the building sits in one state, while the other half lands under different jurisdiction, and there’s nefarious activities playing out on both sides.

Some of it has to do with a stash of cash buried under the hotel’s floorboards, but that’s just the start.

Keep your eyes open, and your wits about you.

Thor: Ragnarok

Hela is hella good.

As Marvel churns out the same film, over and over, the few which have truly captured my fancy (and I was a longtime comic book guy) have been those willing to mess with the formula.

The third chapter in Thor’s saga scores with its humor, its eyepopping colors, and use of Immigrant Song to punctuate a slo-mo throw-down.

But it’s Blanchett, ultra-refined Aussie unleashed as a wicked universe-killer, who makes things pop.

Swaggering across the screen, sneer crackin’ like a whip, Hela makes Thanos look like a JV benchwarmer.

Kneel before your goddess of death.