Yeah, I know, I'm pathetic.
Two things, specifically, jumped out at me this time:
- the rank incompetence of the American team. The Ancient Ones cause a minor earthquake immediately after Hadley marks Marty's "kill", but they don't take the hint or investigate why the gods might be displeased. The tunnel doesn't collapse as scheduled, but the demolition team doesn't think to tell anyone about it. Marty ends up getting rid of the doctored weed, and they doesn't find out until it's too late to do anything about it. It never occurs to them to put fake stars under the dome to allay suspicion, or install cameras in the elevator shaft. Etc etc. Sure, to some extent these are 'necessary' lapses to drive the plot, but they also serve as a critique of bureaucracies... and, by extension, the difficulties in keeping everyone motivated and focused during the filmmaking process. In any large organization working on a project for a long period of time, it becomes so easy to cut corners and half-ass things that it's sometimes a wonder anything ever gets accomplished.
- if you were going to assign the roles of Virgin, Whore, Athlete and Scholar to the following kids, who would get which role?:
Virgin/Whore: the smart, funny girl in a committed relationship, vs the girl who just had an affair with her professor who says she "knew what she was getting into"
Athlete/Scholar: the sociology major versed in Soviet economic theory, vs the football team's star wide receiver
The film deliberately sets up that each male/female pair eventually embody the opposite role from what you might expect based on their introductions, and yet we end up more or less accepting the way they act at the cabin: more in the case of Dana and Curt, less in the case of Holden (where did those glasses come from, anyway?) The glorious exception is Jules, who with repeated viewings has become my favourite character of the five. She completely subverts her 'Whore' role, from her over-the-top parody of a makeout session with the wolf head, to the sheer amount of 'coaching' she needs from Downstairs to finally be willing to have sex in the woods and fulfill her role in the ritual. Plus, she gets so many good lines at the beginning of the film, from "Unworthy of global positioning" to the note-perfect "I learned it from watching you!" play-fight between her and Curt which brilliantly sketches out the nature of their relationship in about ten seconds. Anna Hutchison deserves major, major props for her performance. It's not as showy as Fran Kranz's Marty, but it's arguably just as important to the movie in terms of prepping the audience for the deeper genre deconstructions to come. It's a hell of an introduction to the world for a former Yellow Cheetah Ranger.
Joss, please find work for Hutchison in your next project, whatever it is.