The best way to experience The Cabin in the Woods is to go in completely blind. Avoid the trailer, in fact why are you reading this review anyway? Ah, because you want to know what the buzz is all about.
Well, the brains behind this gem of a movie are two names that are instantly recognisable to all fans of genre TV and movies. The film is written by the god-like genius Joss Whedon (Angel, Dollhouse, Buffy, Firefly, Serenity) and his long time friend Drew Goddard (Cloverfield, Lost, Alias, Angel, Buffy). This alone should give you a taste of what to expect.
So what is the film about?
Well, not to give too much away, the movie starts off like your typical slasher/horror movie with the stereotypical college kids going on a vacation in a place that TriAdvisor would advise to avoid at all costs. For about three quarters of the movie we are treated to the usual staples of the genre, all the while there is an undercurrent that something isn’t quite right.
This is done through a clever use of editing and storytelling. We, the audience, know how this is going to end….. or so we think.
I sat in the cinema, watching what I thought was the conclusion of the film. At this point it is brutal and it’s all due to how it is shown on the screen. There is a stark contrast between normal goings on and one of the five victims facing off with the big bad.
Suddenly, the rug is pulled out from under you and you’re taken on a further roller coaster ride. This happens a good few times, but it seems that both Whedon and Goddard are only letting you just about catch your breath before hurtling you through more twists and turns.
The final conclusion is typical Whedon/Goddard fare.
As for the cast, the actors do an excellent job in portraying their characters. I especially liked Kristen Connelly who plays the good girl in the group and Fran Kranz who plays the stoner.
Connelly manages to make the character human and the proper final act is harrowing to watch. You can feel the complete hopelessness she feels at numerous times during the film, without resorting to cheap gimmicks.
Kranz is the comic relief in the film, but again he manages to do so in a way that feels natural and not at all cheesy. After seeing the film, I looked at his body of work and found that he is in many of Whedon’s works.
When watching this film, you have to remember it’s been sitting on the shelf for three years, gathering dust due to the financial issues that the original studio, MGM was going through. With this in mind we see the birth of Chris Hemsworth, as this was one of his first major roles. He plays the jock with relish, but without being arrogant. In fact this film, and working with Joss Whedon, landed him the role in Thor.
If you love horror, with a dark twist go see this film. Heck, go see it! It’s definitely a marmite film, you will either love it or hate it. There will be no middle ground.
I would recommend this film to fans of Shaun of the Dead, any Joss Whedon stuff or just something a bit different. This is destined to be a cult classic and I am definitely going to see it again!
RATING: 5 Stars
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012)
DIRECTOR: Drew Goddard
STARRING: Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams, Fran Kranz, Kristen Connelly, Amy Acker