The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods pays homage to, and skewers, every slasher and horror movie you’ve ever seen. This film is intermittently hilarious, absurd, graphic, rousing, and ultimately very satisfying. The Cabin in the Woods is one of the best films of 2012.

Here’s a trailer:

The deets:

Released April 13, 2012

Written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard

Directed by Drew Goddard

Starring Amy Acker, Kristin Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Bradley Whitford, Richard Jenkins, Jesse Williams, and Sigourney Weaver

Rated: R

*     *     *     *     *

Story

The story of The Cabin in the Woods is that there is more than meets the eye. A group of five friends heads to a cabin in some remote woods, being warned of grave danger by a creepy old guy. These are the characters, and if they sound familiar, they should:

1. Dana (Connolly): a cute, intelligent college brunette who feels a little separate from the group because she’s not as promiscuous– she’s semi-pure. Kind of.
2. Curt (Hemsworth): a smart, strapping college fellow who goes dumb and horny upon arriving at the cabin.
3. Jules (Hutchison): a fun-loving, smart, blond, beautiful college girl who goes dumb and slutty soon after arriving at the cabin.
4. Holden (Williams): a decent black fellow who seems to feel somewhat dragged along and who feels like intelligent conversation is more of a party than getting wasted.
5. Marty (Kranz): a major pothead, smart, wry, provider of meta-situational observations and humor

If you think Holden is the first that gets murdered, you’d be wrong, because this is Whedon.

There is another storyline that follows a bunch of technicians, led by Sitterson (Jenkins) and Hadley (Whitford), along with Lin (Acker). These techs, surrounded by all kinds of surveillance and other high-tech equipment, seem to be conducting some kind of experiment, or perhaps a ritual, but for them it is a regular day at the office. Brian White plays a security guard named Truman, who is new to the job and provides some accessibility for the audience to start to get a handle on what’s really happening.

This is a scifi/paranormal send-up and homage to slasher and horror films. The college kids get picked off in imaginative ways, all for a nefarious purpose that the techs slowly reveal.

I can say no more. Anything else must be experienced.

Critique

The Cabin in the Woods is one of the finest films made this year and is a near-perfect specimen of story telling on film, along with a brilliant, at times hilarious homage to horror films.

Think of every horror and slasher trope you’ve seen; Joss Whedon thought of all of those and more and included them deftly in this very finely-tuned and polished movie. But it’s not all homage and skewer; there’s a fully-fleshed story here, with entertaining and engaging characters populating it and bringing it into the real world. The characters feel like people you and I might know, and their dialogue is snappy and, as is normal for Whedon, extremely funny.

In addition to all of this goodness, you have some nice twists and an appearance from the grand maven of powerful scifi female roles: Sigourney Weaver.

All of that said, this is not a family film. There’s genuinely scary stuff here, along with a liberal dose of gore and some nudity. None of it is gratuitous; each bit is doing at least double duty: telling the story and satisfying some specific need within horror/slasher moviedom.

For fans of scifi and/or horror and/or slasher and/or Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods will make you very happy. For fans of simply good films, it will do the same for you.

Content warnings: lots of swearing and bloody violence, supernatural baddies, some nudity and sensuality. 

Writing: 5          Acting: 5          Overall: 5

What makes you think you’re not in a haunted cabin right now? Well, you are, and there are bad nasties coming to eat your fingers if you don’t share this review.. quick!

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About jared

Jared Garrett works as a writer, the manager of a program development department in the corporate world, and an instructional designer. He is a family man with an adorable, fun, and way-too-smart wife, six silly kids, a new house with an overgrown back yard, seven fish, and a bunch of chickens. He has written fiction, user manuals, SEO copy, radio scripts and textbooks and has won first place in the Mayhew writing contest at BYU and received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. He lives at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains and is currently seeking representation for his myriad completed novels.
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