If it's crap ... We'll tell you
The Cabin In The Woods (15)
Director: Drew Goddard.
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz, Richard Jenkins
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Genre: Horror | Comedy
SPOILER: This has been one of the hardest films to review, not due to the scarcity of things to write about (my rather lengthy review speaks for itself on that front) but rather due to the fact that it is impossible to talk about this movie and not include spoilers. Speaking from experience I can assure you that this movie is best viewed not knowing anything about it, thus I’ve decided to add this warning of spoilers. The majority of the review is spoiler free, however in paragraph three I have added a warning for anybody wanting to avoid spoilers.
The‘The Cabin In The Woods’ is a unicorn, not in the sense that it is literally horse with a horn, (although – come to think of it...never mind) but rather in the sense that it’s a truly unique experience, by very definition – something you have never seen before. Its main setting, the titular cabin, will be familiar to anybody who calls them self a fan of the 1981 Raimi classic ‘The Evil Dead’ and its astounding sequel. That’s because the cabin, located in said woods, is the exact same cabin from the Raimi films. That’s only the beginning of the similarities when comparing Drew Goddard’s masterpiece of a debut with the prior horror classics. This is, for anybody who finds ‘Evil Dead 3’ irritating and overblown, the logical sequel to ‘Evil Dead 2’. A fully immersive, deconstructionist horror film that delves down, deep deep down, into the root of horror and horror as a film genre. In this sense it’s a geeks dream come true, Goddard has made it hard to remember the once meta classic ‘Scream’ and it’s sequels. This is not just a horror comedy, this is the definitive horror comedy...and sits on my list of horror classics...right alongside Ash and his boomstick.
It’s the spirit of innovation, true originality combined with genuine thrills and mature humour – this is the kind of film that doesn’t tend to get a theatrical release...a film with brains...mmm brains! Really, we’re lucky we even get to see it. The Cabin in the Woods was set to release almost three years ago, but due to MGM filing for bankruptcy, the film was shelved indefinitely. At times, it looked like it might never see the light of day. But here we are, opening weekend, and I’m happy to say whole-heartedly that it was utterly worth the wait.
Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods. Sounds rather simplistic doesn’t it, like the title ‘Friday The 13th part 23’ would have been a better fit? You’re wrong. *Spoiler Alert. The cabin, is just the beginning...what we have is a company that control this cabin – and presumably several thousand more – a company whose job it is to release monsters upon our unsuspecting kids in order to...well saying any more would be ruining the fun. I know this synopsis has been lackluster at best but it’s for your own good. Trust me.
This being Drew Goddard’s first feature film you wouldn’t be criticized for expect a level of amateurish filmmaking...however to expect it here would be a mistake. Goddard is a veteran, not to the director’s chair of course, but he is responsible for churning out some of the best episodes of ‘Buffy’, ‘Lost’ and ‘Alias’ – thanks to this, ‘Cabin’ is rife with shimmering dialogue, finely crafted geek humor and in jokes that will have you rolling on the floor. Its all incredibly black I must add, you’ll end up laughing at some pretty gruesome things but Goddard does a staggering job at making you giggle regardless. The characters, while eventually resorting to humorous stereotypes – are actually finely crafted. Each one of them is a nice, intelligent person and it’s a shame to see them finally bite the dust no matter how funny it is. It’s clear to see that Whedons had a strong influence here. ‘Cabin’ plays like a long episode of ‘Buffy’ with innovation pathing the way for brilliant characterization and writing.
The pacing is top notch, at a mere 95 minutes my only gripe would be that I could have stayed in that cabin another 90 minutes and not have complained. Everybody likes to be in on an inside joke, but so many horror films have hopped onto the bandwagon of self-awareness that the joke itself may be getting tired. If anyone could reinvigorate the concept, it's Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard.
The acting is sublime with leads Connoly and Kranz proving that they are true rising stars, the stand outs, however, are veterans Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford who p[provide the most sincere laughs. In all this is a star studded phenomenon that fires on every level.If I have one gripe, and boy is it minor...some of the special effects give credence to its budget restraints. Its minor...and not really much of an issues when you compare it to how good the rest of the film looks and sounds. With gore effects that are goopy in all the right ways. The soundtrack is stellar and the sound effects rife with atmosphere...it’s the cabin itself, however, that proves to be the best special effect of them all.
Verdict: ‘The Cabin In The Woods’ is nothing short of a masterpiece. It’s just that simple. Based on sheer innovation alone this is the best experience I’ve had in a movie theater for the longest time. Sublime storytelling, genuine thrills and jokes that make even the most stubborn of horror fan boy squee with joy. Goddard and Whedon have made ‘Evil Dead 4’, not in body but in spirit. Whereas most meta horror movies fail to go far enough (Scream 4) ‘Cabin’ is a full deconstruction, with nods to J-Horror, 80’s slashers and the horror audience as a whole. “We’re not the only ones watching” . While comic and at times utterly mental, ‘Cabin In The Woods’ is incredibly smart, it expects its audience to understand horror tropes and plays on your expectations. By the time the final act rolls around...you’ll be screaming for more killer merman. What are you doing? Why are you still reading this...go! Go buy your ticket now!!!
+ This is the most entertaining flick I’ve seen in years.
+ It’s a love letter to horror fans.+ Smart, funny, a bloody good time.
+ The acting, Jenkins especially is awesome.
+ The logical sequel to ‘Evil Dead 2’
- Only 95 minutes!!!
See This If You Liked: Drag Me To Hell (2008), Evil Dead 2 (1987), Braindead (1992)