A group of college friends take to a cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway. In true horror film fashion, the students do some screwing, things go awry, evil rears its ugly head, and people die.
The Cabin in the Woods was kept largely under wraps until its release. The interviews, reviews, previews, and everything else in support of the film posed more questions than were answered. For all anyone knew, the film was going to be a smartly made slasher film or a chilling tale of supernatural horror. As it turns out, it’s a little bit of everything.
The Cabin in the Woods is co-written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard with Goddard directing. It is one of the best original horror films I’ve seen in years. It melds a variety of horror sub-genres and brings something completely original to the table. Whedon and Goddard have likened the film to a love letter to the horror genre that also expresses a level of discontent with the current state of the horror genre. And that’s exactly how the film reads.
The script is revolutionary. It deconstructs the horror film, as we know it and puts the pieces back together in the wrong order. It refuses to be put in any one sub-category and implores audiences and horror filmmakers to think. The Cabin in the Woods is a thinking person’s horror film. It doesn’t follow the status quo, it question it and parodies it.
This film starts out like a prototypical horror feature. All of the stereotypes are there: The virginal character, the jock, the stoner, etc.… But it soon begins to defy expectations and goes in a series of unexpected directions. The characters are some of the most enjoyable to be featured in a horror film in years. The audience cares about their well being and quickly becomes invested in their plight. Though they are written as stereotypes on the surface, they are actually much more dynamic than they first appear.
The film pokes fun at a lot of the idiotic decisions that characters in horror films make and provides some insight as to what might be behind those ill-fated choices. It pays homage to the horror films of years past and then moves on to distance itself from every one of them.
It is the most meta horror film I’ve seen since Scream. It is self-aware at every turn. It’s full of self-referential jokes and such. But is assumes that the audience is in on the joke and avoids talking down to its audience.
The Cabin in the Woods is the kind of film that makes the viewer think about it after it’s over. It is a cerebral flick that functions equally well as a satire of the horror genre and as a horror picture. It is great for pure entertainment value but also has subtext that will make the viewer ponder the film afterwards.
Every piece of the film is functional and there are a multitude of minor details that have a more profound meaning than what is displayed on the surface. Every time I watch The Cabin in the Woods, I notice something minor that I didn’t pick up on the last time I watched it. There is plenty of replay value inherent to this film.
The effects are mostly great. Everything that is done practically is exceptional but the finale is a bit overly reliant on the use of CGI. The CG effects aren’t nearly as enjoyable as the practical makeup effects but are not so bad as to spoil the scenes in which they pop up.
If you’re reading this review, you’ve undoubtedly seen The Cabin in the Woods, so let us know what you thought in the comments section below.
Director(s): Drew Goddard
Writer(s): Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly
Studio/ Production Co: LionsGate
Budget: $30 Million
Length: 95 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Backwoods Horror