FILM REVIEW: Cabin in the Woods

Probably one of most anticipated movies you never knew existed is about to come to the silver screen after languishing on some shelf for three years but has it aged well and is it any good? Cabin in the Woods is the brainchild of Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) and Joss Whedon (Buffy, Avengers Assemble) and their was plan to rip apart the horror genre and start afresh.

Geek Syndicate went along to a very secret screening of this film with a special introduction by Joss Whedon himself who told us that he was very proud of Drew and the film and was grateful that Lionsgate had raised it from the ashes to bring it to the big screen.

The start of the film gives you a false sense of security with lab technicians calmly discussing personal issues when a female colleagues finds them and raises some concerns for the forthcoming operation before hitting you with a grindhouse style film which cannot help but make you smile because it is from here that you know you are about to get something quite special. Switch to five teens who set out on a road trip to a cabin in the woods. On the way they meet a strange old man who warns them not to go but as all good horror films they ignore the advice and set out to find the cabin. As you would expect, the five engage in drinking, swimming in the lake and kissing stuffed animals, yep you heard right. Then all hell breaks loose and the five have to not only figure out what the secret of the cabin is but to also stay alive.

To reveal more of the films plot would spoil it for you and trust me you do not want that.  The beauty of Cabin in the Woods is that it gives you what you think you want and then flips it sideways to deliver a whole other level.

The five unlucky teens are all relative unknowns with probably the biggest star being Chris Hemsworth (Thor). Hemsworth is Curt the typical sports jock but also with a brain and the. His girlfriend is the token blond Jules played by Anna Hutchison, who likes to party and have fun. All sounding clichéd? Yep it is but that is the beauty of the film as it embraces the horror genre in all its glory. We then have Holden the quiet mysterious friend who has just joined the gang for this trip. Jesse Williams plays Holden very straight-laced and you never know how to take him My favourite character is the stoner Marty who Fran Kranz brings to life. The last one of the group is the shy female student, Dana, who would rather study than party and has just gotten over an ill-advised relationship with her teacher.

Other cast members include the two lab technicians, Hadley portrayed by Bradley Whitford (West Wing) who is one of my favourite actors and in this he downplays his strengths so well that it is like watching another actor and has some great one liners. Whitford’s lab partner is Sitterson played by Richard Jenkins who brings a sense of maturity to the film and then we have a whole host of smaller parts portrayed by various actors including some of the Buffy/Angel team including Amy Acker. Whedon’s writing shines through from the dry sarcastic straight man right up to the hysterical drug fuelled stoner. Each character is given enough screen time to either make us care or hate them and at some points even root for the monster. 

Cabin in the Woods moves along nicely and wastes no time in pointless filler. Humour is not uncommon in horror films but here it is pitched at a knowing audience who are in on the joke. This is not Scary Movie style humour or even Scream this a higher class but at the same time the humour is so basic it is obvious, much like the plot itself. In fact you wonder why no-one has really done this story before.  In the past there have been films that have employed the same technique and used the same plot idea to fool the audience but none like this. As the film progresses we find ourselves smiling, laughing and cheering in all the right spots with an ending that will have you panting for more. 

The special effects are minimal but effective with excellent use of surroundings to amplify the atmosphere which is a credit to Goddard’s direction, who has done a great job that will appease the horror aficionado and the casual cinema goer alike.

So the real question is, what does  Cabin in the Woods do for the horror genre? The answer is it will make the next generation of directors and writers work harder to keep us entertained with original ideas and that is a good thing. It will also help make horror a great date night again and lastly will require Whedon to dip his toes back into the genre or face the wrath of his old and, after this film, new fans.

Cabin in the Woods slashes the horror genre to bloody ribbons before resurrecting it’s dismembered corpse to a whole new level of cool.

GS Rating: 4.5/5
GS Reporter: Montoya

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