Review: The Cabin in the Woods
“The Cabin in the Woods” is a movie that sat on the proverbial shelf for some time before finally getting a release in 2012. It’s frankly hard to see why. This is one of the most original horror movies ever made, with a catch: a lot of it isn’t all that new, and that’s the point. So maybe it would be better to call it the most innovative horror movie. Regardless, before we go on, I must recommend to anyone reading this to simply go see the film without finding out any further info. Don’t look up a synopsis. Don’t watch any trailers (they give far too much away, and will spoil part of the fun). Just go see it. You’ll thank me later.
Joss Whedon is only credited as a co-writer here, but his hands are all over it. Teaming up with the director of “Cloverfield”, we are treated to a funny, thrilling romp through all that is horror cinema. There’s elements from Whedon’s earlier work, namely “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Firefly”, and “Dollhouse”, added together with the sort of hip meta in-joking that we thought had been dying for a decade (since the original “Scream” led to every slasher movie trying its hand at it) but is somehow completely flipped on its head here. In a word, it is brilliant.
The premise, and again I really do recommend having seen the film before even reading this far, is your typical teen slasher vehicle. A group of teens go for a weekend getaway at a creepy cabin in the woods, shit goes crazy, they start getting killed by some horrible monstrosity that has been awakened, and so on. Where the film goes from there, and more importantly, why, is what really defines why this film is so much fun. The characters don’t perfectly fit the stereotypes they are spoofing, but that’s part of the point too. By the time we are fed bit by bit into the actual premise of the film, we are enjoying ourselves on multiple levels.
I was surprised by how damn funny this film is. There’s plenty of laugh out loud moments even in the midst of a thrilling action scenes. And let me stress, this isn’t funny in the “so ridiculous/bad it’s good” way, it’s funny just because it’s so clever. The more horror movies you’ve seen and tropes you are familiar with, the more likely you are to get a kick out of all the references as I did.
I shouldn’t go on too much more, other than saying that the climax of this film is simultaneously bizarre and fantastic. Chaos erupts on the screen and it becomes almost an entirely different movie. There’s also a crowd-pleasing cameo at the end that serves as icing on the cake.
From beginning to end, “The Cabin in the Woods” takes our expectations and turns them inside out. It blurs numerous genres while never becoming less than immensely entertaining. For anyone who enjoys horror, or is even familiar with the stereotypes of the genre, there’s a great time to be had here.