Jason, you win this time.
I stand by my response, but I can't argue with yours.
You make good point after good point about why this movie works as it is and how it fits within the genre you love.
On to a little bit of nitty-gritty...
"Aren't meaningless deaths a part of horror's general worldview?"
Sure. And maybe this simple fact is why I have such a hard time connecting with this sort of material. We can and should flesh this out further some time in the future. Maybe I'll try another mini horror marathon this year and catch up on some of your recent favorites. Maybe not. :)
My Piranha mention probably seemed like it was out of left field. I was only comparing the fact that we have an audience surrogate that survives that allows us to enjoy characters getting their punishment doled out to them while audience transgressions are winked at. It's more pronounced in Piranha, but I tried to point out that something similar happens in Cabin.
me: "those...who think that this cliched horror...is ridiculously boring don't care much for commentary"
Yeah, I'm just not all that interested in the "college kids getting murdered in the woods" scenario. I can't think of a single movie in which this plot has interested me, but maybe there are several of them out there that I just haven't seen.
"If I were invested on an emotional level, I doubt I'd watch much horror. It would be far too upsetting."
That's one of my primary complaints against horror. It is rarely upsetting. It's all surface thrills. Heads rolling doesn't do it for me. Watch In the Company of Men. :) That's a "horror film" that I can get behind.
I haven't read Silence, but I read an Endo novel called Deep River. Did you know that Scorcese is adapting Silence for the screen?
"He proposed a contstruct that tied together in one mythology all the horror films that have ever come before it. I can't think of any horror film I've seen before that attempts that."
After I wrote out my review, I started reading lots of other reviews (I had skimmed a few before the movie before realizing that they were all leaning toward the spoilerific or at least warning about spoilers, which is a spoiler all its own). A.O. Scott mirrors your thoughts here, but frames things a bit less positively:
There is a scholarly, nerdy, completist sensibility at work here that is impressive until it becomes exhausting. Not content to toss off just any horror movie, Mr. Goddard and Mr. Whedon have taken it upon themselves to make every horror movie. I, and they, mean this literally, but to say more would be to reveal too much and spoil the fun. Which, come to think of it, is exactly what the movie does in the end.