Writer/Producer Joss Whedon’s fingerprints are all over this re-imagining of the horror genre.
The Cabin in the Woods is one of two Whedon creations currently in the multiplexes. While he directs Avengers, here he is responsible only as producer and writer, this is clearly a Whedon creation with a wit and fan knowledge that Whedon embraces like few others.
The Cabin in the Woods telegraphs that not everything in this horror movie is as you would expect from the beginning, in fact there are big clues in the trailer, and from early on we are introduced to a split world. On one hand a group of teens head off to the eponymous cabin (so far, so Friday the 13th) on the other however, we are introduced to a world of suited administrators running some kind of operation from an underground bunker. The two do not remain unconnected for long.
The teens are led by a combination of alpha-male Chris Hemsworth (Curt) and virginal Kristen Connolly (Dana). They are joined by other horror movie staples, the hot girl Jules, played by Anna Hutchinson, the knowledgable stoner geek, played by Fran Kranz and the mysterious outsider Holden, Jesse Williams. This group are as stereotypically horror movie as you could hope for and as they make their way to the cabin they tick off the horror movie cliches in quick succession. It is unsurprising when they arrive at their getaway retreat that they get drunk, play truth or dare and explore the basement of the building. Throughout they do everything movies like ‘Scream’ have taught us not to do in a horror movie, but director Drew Goddard keeps us on edge by subverting a few of the expected moves.
In the other world of the movie the administrators are played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. These two are more clearly Whedon-esque characters. They are the wise cracking duo trading jibes to distract them from the mundanity of their existence, while it becomes increasingly obvious that their existence is nothing but mundane.
The teens continue on their adventure and soon find themselves under attack from a group of ne’er-do-wells in true horror movie style. The performances throughout the piece are strong, a tribute to the strong writing, Hemsworth manages multiple emotions, Hutchison proves to be more than eye candy, but it is Kristen Connolly and Fran Kranz who put in the strongest contributions with subtlety in their broad stroke characters.
As The Cabin in the Woods continues Whedon and Goddard crank up the suspense and the surprises and the climax to the film is one of the most thrilling horror movie finales of recent years, the pace of change makes the film hard to review, only to say it is a roller coaster ride and bloody good fun. It would have benefitted from being scarier, but as a horror comedy this is a strong film that challenges the archetype and brings a fresh twist to a well trodden path.
- Drop what you’re doing and go see Cabin In The Woods (blog404.org)
- Horror Movie Quiz: Which ‘Cabin In The Woods’ Character Are You? (news.moviefone.com)
- New Cabin in the Woods trailer starts to unravel the secrets of Joss Whedon’s horror movie [Video] (io9.com)
- Written Interview: Joss Whedon (“The Cabin in the Woods”) (gointothestory.blcklst.com)