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Cabin in the Woods, The – review

I’m going to give you five definitive reasons why I think Cabin in the Woods is the best movie of the year as of right now in April of 2012.

#1 – writers Joss Whedon (Firefly, Buffy The Vampire Slayer) and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield, Lost) have written the most original horror film script in over 15 years, since the original Scream revitalized the horror genre.

#2 – You’ve kind of seen horror films like this, but not exactly like this.  The film is a mash-up of classic horror films and pays homage to some of the great ones, (Evil Dead, Hellraiser, Friday The 13th) without being overtly in your face about it.

#3 – The film is hilarious, but at times you’re afraid to laugh at it.  I felt immoral at times while trying to withhold a chuckle, and began questioning my stance on the film.  This is something I don’t think I’ve ever done with a horror film.

#4 – It’s scary, violent, and there’s nudity.  I don’t need to explain this.  It’s still a horror film and I want to be scared and see naked girls get murdered.  Call me sadistic.

#5 – After watching the film it took me some time to think about how good the acting actually is.  You have actors who are playing cliches of characters from pretty much every horror film you’ve seen before, but they also have to adapt into those roles from who they are at the beginning of the film.  This may not make sense now as you read this, but you’ll understand what I mean afterwards.

The film stars Chris Hemsworth as Curt (Thor) and a cast of four other ‘teenagers’, Dana, Jules, Marty and Holden, who set off to spend a lovely weekend at a cabin in the woods that Chris’s cousin owns.  The group is everything you would expect to see in a horror film; The Jock, The Cheerleader, The Stoner, The Smart One, The Virgin.  At first glance you kind of roll your eyes and say, ‘Great. Another one of these movies’, and Goddard and Whedon do that for a reason.  They want you to think that.

As the group of teens head to the woods we learn about a group of technicians that is watching them.  Sitterson and Hadley work in a bunker somewhere, and are watching their every move, planning for their arrival at the cabin.  We don’t know why or what for, but it seems to be important and part of something larger.  We will obviously learn about it all later.  The kids arrive at the cabin that looks exactly like the one from Evil Dead.  This cabin looks so inviting guys! Wooo hooo!  They are all ready for some drunken and disorderly behavior, but things soon start to get a little strange in the cabin.  They find a cellar that has a lot of different artifacts, and each one seems to be calling their name for some reason.

While this is all going on we go back and forth to the the technicians in their little hole.  They work for a company just like anyone does.  People come and go from their control room and share common banter that you would see in any work place setting.  They just happen to be betting on the lives of these five teens and planning their ultimate demise.  But again, what for?  The play between these workers and the teenagers is the true genius of the film, and is really where you have to start questioning what you are watching on the screen and how you are interpreting it.  It plays a lot like Eli Roth’s Hostel, meets Michael Haneke’s Funny Games.  If you know anything about either one of those films you know they are extremely violent, and also very hard to watch, along with asking many moral questions about violence, media, and the value of life.  Cabin in the Woods doesn’t attempt to be as profound as Funny Games, and that’s why it works were I think the other failed.

Cabin in the Woods takes the basic formula of almost all horror films and flips it upside down on its head, pulls it apart, and attempts to re-arrange it again from a different perspective. We know what is going to happen to all these kids, but the film tries to explain why it is happening to them.  The answer is quite original, and completely entertaining.  Will it completely re-invent a dead genre?…I doubt it, but it is an extremely fresh take on that genre, and Whedon and Goddard should be heralded for having the balls to write a script that takes such chances, and basically says ‘Fuck you. We’re going to do what we want to.”

Grade: A