[Review] – The Cabin In The Woods

29 Apr

Title: The Cabin in the Woods
Year: 2012
Director: Drew Goddard
Writers: Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchinson, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Amy Acker, Sigourney Weaver
MPAA Rating: R, strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity
Runtime: 95 min
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Metacritic: 72

I finally got around to seeing Drew Goddard‘s The Cabin in the Woods. It’s been a couple of weeks since it’s release, and of course I had heard the massive buzz that’s surrounded the film about its insanely awesome twists and turns; I had, however, thankfully, also managed to stay totally in the dark about the nature of said twists and turns, so that I would get their full awe-inspiring impact as I watched the film. And damn am I glad I managed to stay in the dark about the whole thing; The Cabin in the Woods is undoubtedly one of the best films of the year so far, a meta-horror flick that will manage to genuinely thrill you and surprise you while also having a terrific sense of humor.

On Thursday night I went to see The Avengers (which to date is my only A+ of 2012) and I spent much of my review for that film just showering writer-director Joss Whedon with praise. Well, you can now go ahead and consider 2012 to be a true banner year for the geek god, as he’s also the producer and co-writer of The Cabin in the Woods, and his fingerprints are all over the place. And to think that this film had so much trouble seeing the light of day, seeing as how it was filmed over three years ago and stalled because of MGM going bankrupt, I think it’s something of a small movie miracle that Lionsgate snatched up this film and gave it to us.

It’s also something of a small miracle what Mr. Whedon does here alongside director and co-writer Drew Goddard, who worked for him as a writer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. They turned the horror genre on its head and started saying so much about what’s so great and what’s hurting the genre while at the same time making the best film the genre has seen in years. It criticized the fact that the horror genre has recently become just a bunch of stupid kids being idiots and running around screaming and just a series of torture scenes one after the other. And it brought us back to what the genre was originally all about, getting chills from genuinely thrilling stuff and not because of some shocking sadistic thing, and it got us to actually care about the characters involved, which is something that most horror films nowadays never do.

Telling you anything about the plot would damage your experience seeing this film, because it’s all about how you think you know how it’s going to go and it just goes the opposite direction and leaves you speechless. All I’m saying is that the film is about five friends that go into this lonely and far off cabin in the woods, which is a very familiar plot for a horror film, obviously, but it’s one that this film uses to absolutely turns this genre on its head and do whatever it pleases with it. And it gets away with every last little thing it attempts.

You know how it goes. We have five college students, all of them super appealing because that’s how it has to be, and they’re off to a remote location to have a weekend all to themselves. And you have everything go as you expect it to, though it all sounds way cooler because this is unmistakable Joss Whedon dialogue, but you have these kids and you get to know just enough about them on their way to the cabin (and they all seem like stock horror movie characters: the hot girls, the brainy guy, the jock, the stoner), and they even stop on the mandatory rundown gas station where they meet a creepy old guy, and then they get to this cabin you’ve seen in many horror movies before. There’s also a parallel storyline concerning some engineers of sorts we meet as the film opens in a lab, but that’s as much as I will say about their role here.

I don’t want to get that much more into what happens here because I don’t even want to consider the risk of spoiling the tiniest of bits of this film for you guys. Just rest assured that it’s a brilliant film from start to finish; it’s just infinitely fun to watch, it’s extremely smart in how it plays it all out, and it provides some honest thrills. Not to mention that this film isn’t like the regular films that it starts throwing the secrets and the twist as the film is winding down, but instead this one gives them to you just as it starts, and then it starts revealing them a little more, slowly, as it goes along. And it’s just so superbly done, you’ll be having the time of your life seeing this one.

This is the film that starts rewarding the fact that you know the tropes and the archetypes that films like it provide. It presents us these characters and these moments, but it shows us how these people would actually exist and behave like in the real world, and it has a lot of fun just giving us every single thing we could expect form these films and turning them inside and out. And then we get that big twist as the film’s heading into it’s final act that will just blow every part of your mind. That crazy climax has some really awesomely insane images on screen that are just terrific fun.

That’s it, I won’t say a single more thing about this film’s plot. I just urge you to go see it. This is a film that’s technically really well-made, and that’s just wildly inventive and that will make you laugh and be amazed and surprised and scared all at the same time. And that’s just really hard to do. It’s such an intricately-layered puzzle that it works to utmost perfection, and it achieves that because it’s so clearly reverential to the great horror flicks that we’ve seen in our lives, while at the same time being so critical of the severely unoriginal ones that have flooded the theaters lately.

Trust me when I tell you that the examination of the horror genre this film provides is one of the deepest things I’ve seen at the theaters in a while, and could probably make for a decent thesis on the subject. That’s because it takes its subject super seriously, and it gives smart observations that, alongside the witty one-liners and the memorable visuals this film is so full of, make The Cabin in the Woods a wondrous ride to embark on. I loved this film to bits; I loved the intellectual stimulation it provided, I loved the dialogue, I loved how it was shot. Everything was done right, and at the same time everything was done in a way no one could have expected. Audiences should pay attention to this one, and so should filmmakers to know what can happen when you think outside the box. Or, in this case, when you turn the box inside out.

Grade: A

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3 Responses to “[Review] – The Cabin In The Woods”

  1. BigBear85 April 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    I saw this movie and from the moment the movie got started I was pointing out this or that. I feel
    Joss whedon and Drew Goddard have to be horror fans through and through the nods that throw to old horror movies and the easily recognizable villains of those movies was awesome. I am not going to go into who or what is made in this movie but it superbly done. Also the cameo in this movie and the HUGE H.P. Lovecraft tie in we’re fantastically played up .

    This movie the best horror movie I had seen in a long while and proves that Lionsgate can still make good horror movies

  2. colincarman April 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    Nice review. Lots of reasons this one will stay in theatres for a few weeks more.

    http://colincarman.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/review-the-cabin-in-the-woods/

  3. AndyWatchesMovies May 2, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    People that go into this one with zero knowledge will have the best time with it, I think.

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