The Cabin In The Woods
All horror geeks should rush to see this at the first opportunity.
After a seemingly endless period of sitting on a shelf somewhere, waiting for Lionsgate to release it, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods finally premiered at SXSW this weekend. We at ScreenGeek are always staunchly anti-spoiler, but this review poses even more of a challenge than usual, as the best way to see The Cabin in the Woods is to have seen literally nothing about the film prior to arriving at the cinema. Be very careful of any reports you read, and despite how tempting it may seem do not watch the trailers, as even though the “twists” they reveal happen about three minutes in, the film remains best seen completely unadulterated by any foreknowledge whatsoever.
When we first saw images and news stories about Cabin, we were confused – why are such creative minds as Whedon and Goddard committing to a standard horror movie, with the usual suspects heading off on an ill-fated trip to the middle of nowhere? We instead focused on the presence of Thor star Chris Hemsworth as the group’s resident “Jock” character, but how wrong we were to doubt the intentions of its geek icon creators, and what the pair have served up is a refreshing antidote to a genre beset by lazy torture porn and Halloween knock-offs.
The film successfully deconstructs the horror genre in a way that few films before it have, bringing to mind the first time we saw Scream, or The Evil Dead. The main thrust of Cabin is that it is uproariously funny – anybody who has ever called themselves a horror fan should see this film, as the joke will not be lost on them. The possible drawback of this approach is that the appeal will not be universal – those not familiar with the horror genre will be confused and possibly turned off by the reverential yet mocking tone, and a number of references to Whedon’s back catalogue will likely go over the heads of many. This is not gateway horror, but there is still fun to be had for the uninitiated.
The cast are uniformly excellent, with the five young leads given the tricky task of playing just close enough to type to keep the spirit of the film alive. Hemsworth’s square-jawed charisma is beaten to the post in the race for the stand-out tag by Dollhouse’s Fran Kranz’s outrageous stoner, bringing the laughs thick and fast even as the film kicks up in intensity. The real scene stealers here though, are Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. Their roles must be shrouded in secrecy, but they are fantastically entertaining for every second they share the screen, with their double act at the heart of everything that makes Cabin subversive.
It really is a tricky task to put across just how accomplished a deconstruction of genre Cabin is, without giving away a single plot point, but it really must be said that all horror geeks should rush to see this at the first opportunity. Whedon and Goddard may have just revolutionised the genre, and we’re certainly hoping they’re successful.