Horror gains a new face with Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods. The shortest review I can give is simply, Go see it now! You really don’t want to wait to have someone spoil it for you. From the total rewriting of the horror genre, a smart and hilarious band of character and an ending that you’ll be talking about for awhile, this is a practically perfect film!
Five friends go to a remote cabin for the weekend. Once there they discover the cabin holds secrets far darker then they imagined. When zombies start attacking the group will learn who, or what, is controlling things.
I really can’t delve further into the plot without letting out some massive spoilers. This is one of those movies where the less you know the better. Even watching some of the trailers spoils some pretty big twists. At an hour and 45 minutes the film flies by due to the expert blend of horror and comedy. The film is dark when it needs to be, and funny when in just the right places. The film isn’t a spoof, nor is it a legit horror film. Director Drew Goddard and co-writer Joss Whedon go even further back in time to question where these typical horror tropes come from. Why do we have the same five characters in these situations? Questions all the way down to “why is there always a creepy hillbilly gas attendant” are looked into and answered in about the only serious ways possible.
The cast is what keeps everything from becoming too cliché or downright dumb. They all seamlessly fit into the predetermined stereotypes of the horror genre, but in the exposition scenes they’re all far smarter than expected. Kristen Connolly makes her foray into scream queen territory and nails it. She’s sweet but never vulnerable, doe-eyed but not a doormat. Connolly is a far confident version of Jayma Mays if that says anything. As one of the characters says “I find myself rooting for her” and that’s true throughout the entire film. Fran Kranz, a long time Whedonite, makes his film debut as the stoner Marty. He’s the smartest one in the group and yet never plays the typical stoner. Richard Jenkins, Amy Acker, and Bradley Whitford are fantastic as the office employees with deep connections to the cabin. The remaining teens, including Thor himself Chris Hemsworth, are all great but don’t offer as much meat as Connolly or Kranz.
There’s not much to critique but many will say the excessive praise is from fans of Whedon’s work. How much you love Joss Whedon’s past efforts will possibly elevate your enjoyment. The three aforementioned teens, Hemsworth and blonde bombshell Jules (Anna Hutchinson) are great but don’t ever really elevate themselves about the jock and the blonde. The weakest link is Jesse Williams as the “nerd,” Holden. He’s incredibly bland and it’s laughable that he’s studying to be a doctor because he’s as dull as a post. It almost feels like he was created simply to round out the five and at time he just stands around. It’s a weak role played by a weak actor.
The Cabin in the Woods is a wonder and a revelation. It’s the shot in the arm the horror genre has been waiting for. See it, see it with friends, and then see it again!