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The Cabin in the Woods

April 14, 2012

Curt: I think we should split up, we can cover more ground that way!

What is there to say about The Cabin in the Woods? It is pretty much heaven for any horror fan. The film’s premise is simple: a group of friends go into a cabin in the woods, where they have the time of their lives. Everything goes peachy until something goes wrong, and this group of younglings realize that they aren’t alone. Whew, that was easy. I thought for sure I was going to end up spoiling something there. The truth is, The Cabin in the Woods is so delightfully surprising and original – which does not happen much in a film nowadays. Pretty much every horror film is able to be predicted, but The Cabin in the Woods proves that fact incorrect. This is a fantastic genre-bending film destined for cult status.

A fun little fact to know is that The Cabin in the Woods was originally set to release a few years back, but was sadly lost in limbo after MGM went bankrupt. Luckily, Lionsgate (who have had great luck this year with The Hunger Games) purchased the rights to the film after MGM went out of bankruptcy – and began one of the best marketing runs I’ve seen. Seriously, about 80% of the film isn’t even shown nor mentioned in the theatrical trailer, which shows 2.5 minutes of the first half hour – which completely led the audience to the fact that this was a generic horror film. Oh, how wrong we were. 

One of the main reasons I fell in love with The Cabin in the Woods was a huge name attached – Joss Whedon, who co-wrote and produced the film. Whedon is the king of originality and entertainment – giving us classic works including Buffy, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Firefly, and directed a little movie called The Avengers. The Cabin in the Woods has a strong Whedon feeling going on throughout, including a good amount of his witty humor he’s known for, along with well-made action sequences.  

I should also praise director and co-writer Drew Goddard, who is well-known for writing hits including Cloverfield, Angel, and many episodes of a little show called Lost. Oh, he also just wrote a script for a film being directed by a lesser known director named Steven Spielberg. Without giving much away, Goddard firmly scares the audience at the right times – or the unexpected times, I should say. His script also plays out as a damn good comedy – packed with some of the best cliches around, while introducing some new ones along the way. There was one specific quote that caught my eye over at Vulture which regards Goddard’s stance on spoilers.

In a way, I wish we didn’t have to tell people anything. But people who’ve already seen it have been protecting the movie for us, and saying, “No, it’s better to be surprised.” If you want it to be spoiled, it can be. I was worried with Cloverfield that we were giving too much away in the first trailer, but that’s not what we’ve done here.

I’m sure that I’m not alone here when I say that it would have been absolute torture if The Cabin in the Woods was stuck in limbo for eternity. Not only is this a crowd-pleasing film – it’s an important one. Furthermore, Goddard will go down in the books as one of the smartest “genre-bending” directors out there. There is so much good going on in this film all thanks to a group of movie-fanatics who give the audience something fresh – while still retaining the many aspects that makes us love horror movies. 

Yet another aspect I admired was the film’s constant mysterious plot. Even when you think you have even the simplest idea of what is happening, none of your preconceived notions will be correct until a huge revelation somewhere in the film. The Cabin in the Woods dumps the predictable nature of horror movies and throws something completely unexpected and exciting out of nowhere, which genuinely impressed me. Although the scares weren’t technically “scary” in terms of fear (except for the title introduction), it sure did prove scarier than most horror films I’ve seen in the past decade.

Is The Cabin in the Woods flaw-free? No. But honestly, every film has its flaws. However, I can proudly say that this film is pretty damn close to being perfect. I found minor pacing issues in the first 20-something minutes, but our five leads make it at least bearable enough to get through it. There is one more flaw that I am unable to share due to the blatant spoilers it would give – but you’ll know it when you see it. 

SPOILERS AHEAD!    SPOILERS AHEAD!     SPOILERS AHEAD!    SPOILERS AHEAD!

Hopefully, if you are reading this right now, you have already seen The Cabin in the Woods. If you have yet to see it, please, stop reading this right now. You know why? It is because this is the kind of film that you will want to be surprised with. Enough chatter, let’s get into the goodness. When the creatures are let out and all hell breaks loose – it turns into a horror-movie geek’s wet dream. While I couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation – it was pretty damn thrilling.  

The last hour or so of The Cabin in the Woods is the closest we are going to get to a live-action Monsters Inc. movie. The only difference is that the reality of the monsters are controlled by the maniacal Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford – who have hilarious chemistry together, if I may add. Whitford’s character and his obsession with the “Merman” creature made me laugh a whole lot. Since I went into the film completely fresh, I was surprised to see Jenkins. He’s a great actor and all – but it was very surprising seeing him in this type of genre film because he’s starred in a bunch of R-rated comedies in the past few years (Step Brothers, Friends with Benefits). To my surprise – he carried his role quite well, as did Whitford. 

Casting unknowns for The Cabin in the Woods was definitely the right idea. Although I am very familiar with Chris Hemsworth at this point, I would not have known him had the film not been in limbo. All five of our leads are pretty much perfect. They appropriately portray these common personas, which are explained in the film: Dana the virgin (Kristen Connolly), Jules the whore (Anna Hutchison), Curt the athlete (Chris Hemsworth), Holden the scholar (Jesse Williams) and Marty the fool (Fran Kranz).

END OF SPOILERS! END OF SPOILERS! END OF SPOILERS! END OF SPOILERS!

I feel like a criminal if I spoil any more of the film. Please, go see this movie – then see it again. The Cabin in the Woods is the movie that reminded me why I love movies. Who would have thought that originality was still alive? Anyway, The Cabin in the Woods is the real deal – and will remain my favorite film of the year until The Dark Knight Rises is released. I recommend this film on the highest level. Discover the secret. 

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2012 6:11 pm

    I found it pretty difficult to write my review without spoilers as well. great review! I’m glad you enjoyed this film so much. I did too!

  2. Ryan Bennett permalink
    April 19, 2012 2:53 pm

    I thought this was alright. I thought the twist was kinda dumb though. SPOILER ALERT: The monsters were dumb, and I thought it was stupid when they all died at the end.

  3. April 19, 2012 5:31 pm

    Are you crazy? Twas the best part of the film!

Trackbacks

  1. The Cabin in the Woods « my blogging London life
  2. The Cabin in the Woods « my blogging London life
  3. The Nature of Fear – Horror Cinema Then, Now and Beyond (the grave) | Intentious

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