Some Couple Reviews Cabin in the Woods

Does this one-way mirror make me look fat?
Does this one-way mirror make me look fat?

Glenn: Today on SCR, we review one of my picks, the Joss Whedon film The Cabin in the Woods, which gleefully subverts many horror and slasher film tropes. The movie premise, which is revealed even before the title screen, is that a high-tech government facility has been set up specifically to trap, and terrorize a group of unsuspecting young people out on a vacation to the titular cabin in the woods.

Kik: I don't like scary movies. I usually won't even watch them, but when you said Joss Whedon was behind this one, I agreed to give it a chance. Even after you told me about the hi-tech twist, I still thought it would be a pretty formulaic slasher flick... I was very, very wrong... in a good way.

Glenn: We knew Whedon could do good monster/horror ever since his Buffy The Vampire Slayer days. The movie is co-written and directed by fellow Buffy alum Drew Goddard. And of course, that series did a terrific job of working in laughs alongside the scares. That said, this movie was still a lot funnier than I anticipated. I laughed hard at quite a few parts.

Kik: Yeah, my face literally hurt by the end because the movie kept me smiling or laughing, especially the final third of the film, which got pretty comedic.

Glenn: The movie starts off a tad slow, the familiar group of younglings - the jock, the slut, the shy girl, and the comic relief stoner (a funny Francis Kranz, formerly of Dollhouse fame) - set off to their isolated weekend retreat where sinister forces await them. I thought the thing that keeps it interesting is the snappy Buffyesque dialogue, along with the puzzling scenes at the government facility, where the two techs in charge of operations, Hadley and Sitterson, crack wise about their odd job.

Kik: Yeah, loved the writing. It was good to see Bradley Whitford (Hadley). I hadn't really seen him in anything since West Wing. Merman!

Glenn: Merman indeed! In an interview, Whedon said the two control guys are definitely stand-ins for the writers themselves.

Kik: I agree with you about the slow start. At first when we're introduced to the two girls in the group, and you can instantly pick up on their stereotypical roles, I was like, bleh, hurry up and get killed by whatever's out there. But then we meet the Chris Hemsworth and Gray's Anatomy guy characters. So then I was like, well this isn't so bad!

Glenn: Meh, my "not so bad" moment came a bit sooner, probably right around the time of that gratuitous shot of Dana (Kristen Connolly) in her panties.

Kik: Uh huh... well I liked how the movie kept playing with expectations. At first I thought maybe the government folks were just conducting some sort of fear experiment, but then someone is killed for real, so oh crap, there goes that guess. Then I thought the (horrible evil killing thing)'s would turn out to be mechanical. But then they turned out to be real!

Glenn: Yep, the plot's got layers like an onion. I really appreciate how the writers slow-played a lot of twists. You'd think the twist that there's all this hi-tech manipulation going on would be a big reveal, but they give that bit away right from the start so they can get to other questions, like why they're going to all this trouble? Why exactly did they pick these people for the cabin? Then there's the big meta question raised by the movie, how/why horror movies serve as an echo of the human sacrifices of the past?

Kik: The whole movie had a good mix of things going on, I felt. It was gory, but not too gory... unlike that zombie movie you're always trying to get me to watch (Dead Alive). And it was scary, but not too scary. Every big scare usually had a good laugh shortly afterwards.

Glenn: Yeah, it all played out like one of the most awesome episodes of Buffy, ever. What was a scene that really stood out for you?

Kik: Ha! The elevator scene! That was so ridiculous, it was awesome.

Glenn: I totally agree with you. That visual had me busting up, laughing. I can't imagine how much fun it must have been for those folks making that movie, to dream up all the action that was happening in that scene. Another one I really liked were the Kyoto segments. Great Asian flavor there.

Verdict

Kik: This movie was so ridiculous, that it was awesome! It keeps you guessing, cringing and laughing, all at the same time. It has funny dialogue, and an interesting plot. I'd recommend it to just about anyone, even people like me who don't particularly like scary movies.

Glenn: If you are a fan of Buffy, or Dead Alive, or the Evil Dead series, then The Cabin in the Woods just might be the best movie you'll see in a long time.

Even if you're not particularly into any of those films though, this movie stands on its own merits as a very well-made horror/comedy. And if that still doesn't get your attention, just know that this film's cast includes a character called Fornicus, Lord of Bondage and Pain, who is just as awesome as you'd expect!

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