Review: Cabin in the Woods
Cabin in the Woods is such a different take on the horror genre that is so unique and refreshing that I don't even want to spoil anything for you all. It is best just to experience it, making this review that much harder. Joss Whedon and Drew Goodard do such a good job with the script in keeping it fresh and funny that you are constantly laughing or expecting something to go horribly wrong. Impressively, there are even some comedic moments in the scarier parts all thanks to the witty writing. With that being said, go see it. Right now. If you are still reading then I guess I will divulge some information as to what the film is about. However, I truly believe that the more you know about the film the less you will enjoy it. It is best to see it and experience it with an empty mind. It is one of the more unique films released in a long time to the horror genre. In fact it may just be in a genre of it's own, which I would leave to smarter men to decide what to name that genre. Even more so, Whedon and Goddard successful managed to make an entertaining film while also having it poke fun at the horror genre that has gone more to gore instead of actual scares.
The plot of the film is almost two seperate movies that intertwine later on. The first begins with Sitterson (Richard Jenkins), Hadley (Bradley Whitford) and Lin (Amy Acker) all dressed in lab coats in a big fancy NASA looking facility prepping some sort of experiment. The second, and the main focus of the movie, is with a group a five friends. Dana (Kristen Connolly) and her roommate Jules (Anna Hutchinson) are preparing to go on a getaway to a cabin that Jules' boyfriend has permission to stay at thanks to his cousin. Her boyfriend, Curt (Chris Hemsworth), shows up with a friend who is on the football team with him and another friend named Marty (Fran Kranz) shows up. The gang joke around a bit and head off to the cabin in the woods despite a couple of creepy occurrences on the way, much like any other normal horror film from the heydays. As the group heads into the cabin they settle into their rooms where they find a creepy painting, but nothing deters them from eventually partying which then leads to a wonderful game of Truth or Dare. Of course things go exceptionally well for the group from there on.
The group slowly begins to realize that something is off about their surroundings and by the way everyone is acting. As the film continues to go on it plays out in all the familiar kind of ways as a horror film would, and it does so in a very enjoyable way. Usually, at this point I would talk more about the plot but I legitimately don't want to say anything about it for the reasons I stated above. While the plot and some of the deaths are very predictable, even to the point that you can even call when exactly and in what order they will die, it is still all done in such a way that makes it fun and refreshing.
The fans of Whedon's style of writing will undoubtedly enjoy the film as he has a way of writing terrific dialogue. Whedon, in his normal way, manages to bring in some of old favorite actors from his famous shows. Amy Acker from Angel makes an appearance as does Tom Lenk from Buffy. For fans of those shows, especially Angel, you for sure will be able to catch a couple of similarities between it and this film. Fran Kranz as Marty really shines with the comedic elements of his character and may just be the heart of the film while also being the most likable character of the bunch. The rest come off as a mixed bag due to lack of any real character development. It's not like you should really expect any character development from anyone in this film as Whedon and Goddard made every character the typical roles in a horror film. The jock, the stoner, the smart guy, the ditsy blonde and the girl next door. All of these characters we know and we can relate to so there is no real need to really spend anytime into developing them and it allows Whedon and Goodard to just focus on the story at hand. The film by no means is perfect and obviously takes some liberties in realism. For one, the smart guy of the group gets banged up pretty good but never seems to show any damage after the scuffle. It works though because the film never takes itself to seriously as Whedon and Goodard intended that the film be a mix of a love letter and a hate letter to what has happened to the horror genre. They feel that the genre has swung too far into the "torture porn" variety and has left the traditional "don't go in the basement" formula. With that being said, those who enjoyed Scream and Evil Dead when they came out will for sure enjoy this film as it does just about the same for the genre. The final twenty minutes of the film quite honestly made my day, and probably my week. It's infusion of horror mixed with comedy was a real treat.