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Cabin in the Woods - Not only by the numbers. It plays the numbers like a harpsicord.
I've said in the past that I'm not a big fan of the killer-on-the-loose movie. That being said, I very much loved The Cabin in the Woods.
The script for The Cabin in the Woods comes from the mind of Drew Goddard (who worked on Lost, Alias and Cloverfield) and Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and The Avengers movie that comes out in two weeks). It's clear that Goddard and Whedon both love horror movies but also love playing with the common horror tropes we all know and tolerate.
But first, the story:
The movie starts in what appears to be a rather boring, run-of-the-mill office building. (Yay, Bradley Whitford) They're talking about some kind of service or product that their company provides, but you don't really get it until later. You start to wonder if the horror of the movie involves spreadsheets, because I could totally understand that.
But then the scene shifts to five teens or youths who are preparing for a weekend in the titular cabin. There's Dana (Kristen Connolly), Jules (Anna Hutchison), her boyfriend Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Dana's "blind date" Holden (Jesse Williams), and their stoner friend Marty (Fran Kranz).
The group arrives at the titular cabin in the co-titular woods and the game is on.
Things happen. Things get creepy. Things do other things. It's a horror movie. You can guess at much of what happens in the first half of the movie.
I would take this moment to point out that this movie relies on and plays with many of the same things I pointed out in my hub about horror. That's very much not a complaint though.
I don't care what you've seen in the trailers and previews. I don't care what you think you know. Unless you've been told too much by some idiot who has no brain/mouth filter, there is absolutely no possibility that you've guessed the true nature or plot of this movie.
Now, it's definitely a horror, but it's just as much—if not more so—a comedy. Remember, this is coming from the man who gave us Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. Whedon excels at putting humor in his dramatic scenes without ruining the tension. In fact, when done right, the breaks from horror can actually increase the tension. And when you finally start to understand what's actually going on? Well, considering what he'd done before, I could absolutely see Whedon's hand at work.
He even directed some of the second unit stuff for this movie, so he's definitely left his fingerprints here.
I love movies that force you to not only re-contextualize the first half of the movie you're watching, but every similar movie you've seen before. I had that experience with The Others. I had it again with The Cabin in the Woods.
But it's all on purpose.
Sometimes I think of other movies because I'm thinking "this is a total rip-off of Such and Such." (Such and Such, by the way, is one of my favorite movies.) But by alluding to these other movies, you start to see them in a different light once you understand what's going on here.
Oh, and be warned right now. There is soooooo much bloody violence in this one. I mean a lot. I can't go into more detail to talk about that without spoiling something, but be warned.
In the end, The Cabin in the Woods plays at being the kind of horror that I'm not really interested in, and that will hurt it a bit in my mind. But the writing and final plot revelations redeem it somewhat.
(And unlike CarltheCritic1291, I really have no problem with this ending. I'm perfectly fine with it.)
But what do you think?
For me, despite being a movie I may never see again, I give this one a 9 / 10.
The Cabin in the Woods is rated R for drug use, sexuality, a bit of nudity, strong language, and ... what else was there? Oh yeah. Copious amounts of bloody violence!