The Cabin in the Woods

Director: Drew Goddard
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz and Jesse Williams
Released: April 13, 2012

Remember how clever Scream was when it was first released? All the horror movie conventions were finally acknowledged and poked fun at, but in a suitably fun and…kinda scary way. Well, The Cabin in the Woods kind of goes down that same route. And while the delivery is considerably messier than Wes Craven’s attempt, it has a far more heightened sense of fun.

The Set-up:
Five of the most stereotypical teenagers imaginable decide to go for a trip to an isolated cabin. In the woods. (ohh, I just got that! Wow this film works on so many levels).
While there, some strange events begin to take place, which appear to be linked to some men in white coats that work in a sophisticated facility.

On a side note, before I even begin to review this, wouldn’t it be great if Chris Hemsworth had simply reprised his role as Thor, and was just there, inexplicably, with four other teenagers? I think he should do that in Home and Away in any case. It’d make Australian soaps more interesting.

Anyway, the premise is deliberately stereotypical, and quite clever in its delivery. We have the typical jock (Hemsworth) with his ditzy cheerleader girlfriend (Hutchison). Then of course, there is the naive and innocent girl (Connolly) and her crush, who is a sensitive intellectual (Williams). And finally, handing in a hilarious performance, is the Shaggy lookalike pothead (Kranz) who, naturally, is the only one who seems to realize something odd is going on.

The fact that some of the characters themselves acknowledge that they are falling into stereotypes is a clever move. It isn’t forced down the audiences’ throats, but handled quite delicately, which really adds to the laughs. It is an example of stellar writing, something Joss Whedon is well-known for. And the dialogue he lends to his cast is nothing short of masterful.

If other horror films could follow his example, the genre would make some incredible strides. Although it has to be said that, with such witty dialogue, it is difficult to actually be scared of anything in the film. There is the occasional jump scare and the usual amount of blood and gore. But it is simply too funny a film to be frightened of, similar to Evil Dead 2, which the cabin itself is clearly a nod to.

The main problem with the film is that it makes a promise that it can’t quite deliver on. The premise is set up fabulously, dragging an ancient narrative into a modern setting. However, it is blatantly obvious that the writers didn’t know how to end the story. It falls apart into something of a mess in its final act. In less capable hands, the finale would have been very unsatisfying.

Luckily, the director has got a pair of capable hands. You can almost visualize him looking at the script and saying “Screw it, let’s make it as silly as an octopus playing badminton with the president!”

Taking the lackluster finish into account, he manages to turn it around and into one of the most memorable conclusions of any horror film in recent years. It may be something of a mess, but it is so overwhelmingly ridiculous that you can’t help but admire it.

Overall:
Less a horror film and more of a comedy about horror films, The Cabin in the Woods has intelligent ideas that aren’t fully developed. It is riotously funny and completely ridiculous, making it a perfect film for couples or groups of friends. However, it could have been so much more. Despite its interesting commentary on the genre, it falls short of being an absolute must-see.

Rating: 7/10

Yeah, I had to dismember that guy with a trowel…so what have you been up to?” – Marty

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • I had the opportunity to see this film weeks before it was released, but I missed it, arghh!! Still, for anyone in Ireland who is majorly interested in horror, they should check out this Facebook page. They do many screenings of both classic and new horror films.
  • The film itself was shot in 2009 but was only released in 2012. This is because the film studio wanted to convert it to 3D. However, the writers and directors objected to this until the idea was scrapped. Which makes them absolute heroes, because as we all know, 3D is the visual equivalent of being punched by Michael Bay. For more of this ranty material on 3D, click here.
  • At one point in the ridiculous conclusion, a ‘Reaver’ can be seen. Reavers are a type of creature from Joss Whedons’ cult tv show ‘Firefly’ (which I am currently enjoying for the first time).

This film is kind of like:

  • An incredibly messy house party

or

  • A philosopher trying to prove he isn’t boring
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