When Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho opened in 1960 it was carried into theaters on a wave of advertising that commanded audiences to keep mum about the story’s surprising elements. Thanks in part to that ad campaign, Psycho became a hit that changed horror films even as it legitimized them. The mainstream horror genre quickly developed around a codified set of tropes, character archetypes and specific rules that, fifty years later, are tiresome in their predictability.

Marketing for The Cabin in the Woods, from director Drew Goddard and his co-writer Joss Whedon, exploits some of that same “don’t tell friends how it ends!” PR mode. But that’s just a smokescreen. Goddard and Whedon aim to demolish the archetypes born in the wake of that early popularization of horror, and in doing so bring a sense of spontaneous fun back to the genre.

The pair succeeds spectacularly. The Cabin in the Woods is a blast. It’s a film for anyone who feels the spark has gone out of horror. This movie is clever and quite self-aware, and it has very specific ideas about what caused horror to fall into rote patterns. As they get around to explaining just how horror turned into what it is today, Goddard and Whedon give the audience a chum bucket full of the thrills it wants, but also argues that playing by the rules is the wrong way to go. Read More »

Brad Anderson‘s The Hive has cast its first non-Halle Berry role. Abigail Breslin has just signed on to the Rich D’Ovidio-scripted thriller, which will enter production in Los Angeles this summer. Berry plays a 911 call operator who comes face-to-face with her own worst fears as she tries to save a teenage girl (Breslin) from a vicious killer.

Breslin’s switched easily between genres over the course of her career, but she has relatively few straight-up thrillers under her belt so The Hive represents a bit of a change of pace for her. Breslin is currently shooting Ender’s Game, from director Gavin Hood. [Variety]

After the jump, the stellar comedic cast of A.C.O.D. somehow gets even better, and Marcia Gay Harden gets a job in Get a Job.

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Amy Poehler and Adam Scott have shown such fantastic chemistry in NBC’s Parks & Recreation that the pair are gearing up to work together again. This time, however, they won’t be romancing each other — far from it. Poehler has entered talks to join Scott in A.C.O.D., in which he plays a man named Carter who discovers that years ago, he was enrolled in a study about children of divorce. When he’s called upon for a follow-up study, chaos breaks out among his family and he struggles to keep the peace.

Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara are set to play Carter’s parents, while Poehler has entered final negotiations for the role of Jenkins’ new wife. That’s right: Leslie Knope will be Ben Wyatt’s stepmom in this movie. Which is even more awkward than that time Leslie’s mom hit on Ben. Yeesh.

Shooting on A.C.O.D. is scheduled to start next week in Atlanta with Stu Zicherman at the helm. Jessica Alba, Jane Lynch, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead also star. [Deadline]

After the jump, Diablo Cody’s title-less directorial debut casts two more.

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The cast of Stuart Zicherman‘s A.C.O.D. just keeps getting better. Mary Elizabeth Winstead has just joined Adam Scott, Richard Jenkins, and Jane Lynch in the comedy, which centers around around thirtysomething Carter (Scott). When his younger brother gets engaged, Carter must try and keep the peace between his long-divorced parents lest they ruin the wedding. Winstead is set to play Lauren Stinger, Carter’s supportive longtime girlfriend.

Winstead drew raves at Sundance earlier this year for her turn in James Ponsoldt’s Smashed, and has A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter due out later this year. [Deadline]

After the jump, Mila Kunis gets demonic, while Vera Farmiga’s little sister goes on a crime spree.

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Dreamworks Animation announced Turbo a while ago; the animated film features Ryan Reynolds as the voice of a garden snail who dreams of being a racing champion.

Today the rest of the major voice cast has been announced, and it features some excellent names. Paul Giamatti, Luis Guzman, Maya Rudolph and more are part of the lineup. And Robert Siegel (The Wrestler, Big Fan) has been announced as a co-writer, which is also a welcome detail. Read More »

When I made my list of most anticipated movies of 2012, one of the films I immediately realized I’d left out of consideration was Andrew Dominik‘s Cogan’s Trade, which stars Brad Pitt as a mob heavy on the trail of a couple junkies who ripped off the wrong poker game. So far we’ve seen only one still (above, seen in better resolution below), and no footage. But just on the strength of Dominik’s last film, the tremendous The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, this new movie stands as one we just have to see.

Now there are a few new stills from the movie that show off more of Pitt as well as looks at supporting players Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini and Richard Jenkins. Read More »

On paper, Lawrence Kasdan‘s Darling Companion sounds promising. Kasdan, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and filmmaker, directed the drama from a script he co-wrote with his wife Meg Kasdan, also an Oscar nominee. The star-studded cast, as the trailer is happy to remind you, includes two Academy Award nominees (Richard Jenkins and Sam Shepard) and three Academy Award winners (Diane Keaton, Dianne Wiest, and Kevin Kline), as well as promising younger actors like Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass. But at the end of the day, no number of collective accolades can guarantee an interesting picture, and unfortunately, the trailer for Darling Companion looks pretty cringeworthy.

The Kasdans’ screenplay revolves around a dissatisfied older woman named Beth (Keaton) who adopts an abandoned dog she finds on the side of the road and finds contentment in her bond with him. But when Beth’s self-absorbed husband (Kline) loses the dog, the couple pull together a search party to find him and everyone finds that they’re affected by the experience in unexpected ways. Watch the video after the jump.

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There’s a scene in Josh Radnor’s sophomore effort, Liberal Arts, where a 35-year-old admissions officer is mathematically analyzing what it means to date a 19-year-old. No words are uttered, it’s all simple math written on screen, yet it’s filled with more humor, poise and philosophy in two minutes than some movies have in two hours. The scene spawned a round of applause mid-movie. Not bad for a writer/director who most people know as a sitcom star.

With Liberal Arts, Radnor positions himself as a mini-Cameron Crowe, mixing joy, life lessons and a love of culture into a perfect, crowd pleasing film. Co-starring Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney and Zac Efron, Liberal Arts had its world premiere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and received a well-deserved standing ovation. Read more after the jump. Read More »

Armie Hammer has been working his clean-cut golden boy looks to his advantage in The Social Network, J. Edgar, and the upcoming Mirror, Mirror, but the latest addition to his slate will see him transforming into a bit more of a “badass.” Hammer will bulk up and shave his head to star with Eric Bana in By Virtue Fall, a “gritty drama” about an ATF agent (Hammer) who gets framed for corruption and serves time into a maximum security prison. Once out, he’s determined to get revenge on his former partner (Bana), whom he blames for destroying his life.

The project marks the directing debut of Up in the Air co-writer Sheldon Turner, who also penned this script. By Virtue Fall is scheduled to start sometime in 2012, after Hammer wraps up Disney’s The Lone Ranger over the summer. [Deadline]

After the jump, Richard Jenkins becomes Adam Scott’s dad, while Juno Temple and Wes Bentley befriend Amanda Seyfried.

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Christopher McQuarrie‘s adaptation of Lee Child‘s thriller novel One Shot is moving forward with Tom Cruise in the lead role of hulking ex-military cop Jack Reacher, who is drawn into a strange plot involving sniper shootings in a mid-size town.

To say that fans have been unenthusiastic about that casting choice is an understatement. A recent re-read of the novel gave me a good idea of how the character will be adapted to suit Cruise, and so I’m ready to see what McQuarrie is going to offer. But I’ve had many conversations with others who aren’t so sure. Cruise seems quite aware of that uncertainty, as he talks publicly about his role in the film. Read More »