The Cabin in the Woods
You shouldn’t read this review. Seriously. Stop now! Nothing’s going to be revealed, no spoilers are going to be dropped. In fact, don’t read any reviews of The Cabin In The Woods. Just go see it cold. You’ll thank me.
You see, over the next few weeks, you’re going to read a lot of reviews of Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s delirious meta-horror The Cabin In The Woods. And they’re all going to say the same thing; that it’s almost impossible to review The Cabin In The Woods without spoiling something. The less you know going in, the more you’ll enjoy it. They’re also going to throw around words like subversive, smart, funny, inventive, reverent, referential, original, bonkers, off-beat, knowing and post-modern. And it is all of those things. But all you really need to know about The Cabin In The Woods is it’s the best, most entertaining, slice of sheer balls out insanity you’re going to see all year.
Here’s as much of the plot it’s safe to tell you: Five cookie cutter college kid/horror movie stereotypes head off for a weekend of fun and frolics in an isolated cabin in the woods. You just know it’s going to end in tears. Or, to be more precise, violent, bloody death. There’s the jock, Curt (thunder god Thor himself Chris Hemsworth), his slutty blonde bimbette girlfriend Jules (Anna Hutchinson), her goody-two-shoes friend Dana (Kristen Connolly), sensitive hunk Holden (Grey’s Anatomy’s Jesse Williams) and nerdy stoner Marty (Dollhouse’s Fran Kranz). So far, so familiar. You’ve seen this kind of film so many times you can practically predict in which order they’re going to die. After all, that’s half the fun of teen horror movies, their adherence to the formula. But just who are those two middle-aged guys (Bradley Whitford & Richard Jenkins) in the underground bunker? Why does white-coated scientist and Whedon regular (not to mention fanboy goddess) Amy Acker look so harried? Why are they spying on the gang, watching their every move, controlling them? What the Hell are they up to?
Just what Whitford, Jenkins and Acker are up to lies at the heart of The Cabin In The Woods. Intelligent, witty and playful, Whedon and Goddard have achieved the impossible: they’ve crafted a genuinely fun, post-modern horror movie that’s a reverent celebration of the genre it parodies, defiantly skewering the accepted conventions while expertly satisfying them. Where Scream was content to be smugly, almost cynically, self-aware and self-referential, with characters who knew the “rules” of horror movies in one long movie in-joke, The Cabin In The Woods is cleverer than that, deconstructing and rebuilding the horror movie from the ground up, mindf*ckng the audience all the way.
The performances are uniformly excellent with the appropriately spunky Last Girl Connolly, a charismatic pre-Thor Hemsworth and Kranz all particularly good while Whitford and Jenkins get the film’s best lines as the two wage-slaves commenting on the action. For the first two thirds of the film, the script crackles with the kind of dialogue only Whedon writes and Whedon and Goddard’s obvious love of the genre shines through as they pay tongue-in-cheek homage to the conventions even as they subvert them. And then, in the film’s final third, they go bat-shit crazy serving up a last act that’s demented, shocking, scary, and hilarious with buckets of gore and tidal waves of blood, more twists than a corkscrew, perhaps the best horror movie cameo ever and a satisfyingly over-the-top climax that demolishes any sequel/franchise possibilities.
Gutsy, funny and audacious, The Cabin In The Woods is both a love letter and a Dear John to the horror genre. It’s a genuine instant classic and may just be the ultimate Saturday night movie. See it before some lying hipster smugo tells you they guessed the ending.
Bradley Whitford, Richard Jenkins, Jesse Williams, Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Amy Acker, Anna Hutchinson
1 hour 45 minutes
UK Release Date:
Friday 13th April 2012