Plot: Five American college friends head for a carefree weekend to a cabin in the woods; only to realize that this is no typical log-house in a rural setting; as the cabin itself and what surrounds it intends on a very different fate for its visitors.
Review: Oh the teen horror film, a type of film that has been produced time and time again with classics that include “Evil Dead” and “Friday the 13th”. It is the sub-genre within horror where the film thrives on its stereotypical characters and weapon-wielding maniac/monster that causes their often horrific demise. Unfortunately, this genre that has for some time, especially in the past decade, become tedious and far too predictable for the horror film lover’s liking; and so has faltered dramatically in making any real impact both critically and commercially. Due to this, many will think that Cabin will be not much different to what I’ve mentioned thus far, however, this is exactly what this film wants its viewers to think. Written by Avengers Assemble director Joss Whedon and Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard, to which Whedon has described Cabin as being a “loving hate letter” to a genre that he has clear admiration for; Cabin in the Woods takes on an entirely different approach to the stale and cliched horror concept, which makes it all the more unforgettable.
Cabin in the Woods takes on an entirely different approach to the stale and cliched horror concept
In our unfortunate group of friends, it is here that lies our stereotypical characterizations that consist of Curt the “athlete” (Chris Hemsworth, of Thor fame), Jules the “whore” (Anna Hutchison), Holden the “scholar” (Jesse Williams), Dana the “virgin” (Kristen Connolly) and Marty the “fool” (Fran Kranz, of Whedon’s Dollhouse fame). In any other film, this group would be forgettable, but the cast of young-up-and-comers are far more appealing; especially with the stand-out performance of Kranz’s pot-loving Marty, who’s sarcastic one-liners keep the audience engaged with laughter. Along with Connolly and Hemsworth showing signs of early star power in their performances, (particularly Hemsworth, as his career has sky-rocketed since the movie was filmed in 2009). In contrast to the young protagonists, character actors Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whiford add a delicious new concept with their characters (who will not be mentioned to avoid spoilers); along with a number of humorous cameos from Whedon-resident actors such as Amy Acker and Tom Lenk, who pop-up in the film playing smaller roles.
Casting is not the only aspect of Cabin in the Woods that feels somewhat typical Whedon/Goddard style, it is evident that if you are somewhat familiar with their work, then you will able to foresee a majority of the film, even in its unpredictable approach; particularly in the tone and dialogue which is quirky and off-beat even as the chaos is unfolding. This is not however necessarily a bad thing, as Cabin is definitely a highly enjoyable experience, as it thoroughly deconstructs the elements of horror and comedy with sustainable speed that it is not long until the film touches on an entire range of themes that refers to many other sub-genres within horror along with their franchises. It is as though Whedon and Goddard have made Cabin in the Woods as a homage to expose a mirror image on what the horror genre has become, thus indicating a notion that it is a horror film about horror films, without it feeling too derogatory.
With the big block-buster Summer films that will be coming out in later months, Cabin in the Woods is a quirky alternative that definitely does not disappoint in capturing the same enjoyment as the latter of those films. It is a rare piece of cinema that will truly stay in your mind for quite some time and is actually, in parts, quite horrific. I would not be surprised if this film was soon considered a “classic” horror film and a requirement for all film lovers. Thank you Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard for bringing the scary back to horror!
The Cabin in the Woods is in cinemas now!