Every review and preview about Cabin in the Woods is likely to tell you the same thing: don’t read anything about it and JUST GO SEE IT. we happen to agree with this, so we’ll try keep spoilers to a minimum and recommend you see this movie as soon as you can.
It’s a tale as old as cinema itself: a group of kids go to a remote shack in the middle of nowhere for a boisterous weekend of drinking and relaxation only to encounter a supernatural threat that picks them off one-by-one. These students are very much the kids that pop up in every horror movie: there’s the jock, the intellectual, the good girl, the naughty girl and the stoner. They are so familiar, that they could easily have emerged from the back of the mystery machine with a bag of Scooby Snacks. But the cabin, much the movie itself, is not quite what it seems: the very first scene follows the conversation of two office drones (the excellent Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins) who appear to be preparing for some unseen task somehow related to the unwitting holiday-makers.
Famously, this movie has been languishing on the shelf since it was shot in 2009. A victim of MGM’s bankruptcy, it’s been stuck in the same financial limbo that saw the delay of Hobbit and the next James Bond mega-hit. Thankfully, Cabin in the Woods has seen the light of day in time to capitalise on the rise of star Chris Hemsworth (an unknown when they shot it) and the release of Whedon’s upcoming Avengers Assemble, which promises to be the biggest comic book movie to date.
By the way Cabin’s secret’s have been hyped, we’re led to believe there’s a single monumental twist upon which the entire story hangs, but in fact, it is something far better. Co-writers Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard have created a movie that takes great pleasure in gradually revealing how the two plots tie into each other, slowly illuminating the world in which the story takes place. Though much has been said about it being a post-modern dissection of the horror genre, the real fun of Cabin comes from blending the terror of the woods and the dry, hilarious banality of The Whitford/Jenkins Plot (which, incidentally, is a great name for a prog-rock band). Whedon’s trademarks appear in full force, with great banter-y dialogue and the involvement of a shady organisation run by flawed, likable humans (see Dollhouse, Angel).
Though its peculiar approach may disappoint horror fans in search of a purely terrifying experience, it seems unlikely that anyone would take exception to being duped into seeing a movie so original, smart and unpredictable. It might not be the scariest movie ever made, but you’re unlikely to find many horror films as joyously entertaining as Cabin in the Woods