in Review

The Cabin in the Woods
(Contains Spoilers)

Leave it to Joss Whedon to completely turn a genre on its head in the already acclaimed The Cabin in the Woods. Not since Scream has the horror genre been this deeply analyzed or even criticized in such a clever way, but The Cabin in the Woods takes that model and pushes it to new heights. Directed by Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard and written by Goddard and Whedon (both former collaborators on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), The Cabin in the Woods is an all-out, over-the-top, send-up of the horror genre.

Surprisingly, the first characters we are introduced to are two seemingly white-collar technicians played by Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins. These two work for a company that stages slasher-like killings or “rituals” for mysterious reasons. The victims of this particular ritual are five friends that all represent horror cliches. You have; the virgin (Kristen Connolly), the jock (Chris Hemsworth), the slut (Anna Hutchinson), the scholar (Jesse Williams), and the outcast stoner (Fran Kranz), all heading out to spend the weekend at a cabin in the woods.

Once at the cabin the technicians or “puppeteers” start to manipulate the group’s environment. Pheromones are released through vents to make them horny, bridges out of the woods are destroyed, even random items are placed in a basement to decide what kind of creature will come after the group. Bradley Whitford is disappointed he never gets to see a Merman. The reasoning behind all of this is explained slowly throughout the movie, but you have to see it to appreciate it.

What I enjoyed the most about The Cabin in the Woods was the humor. The whole thing is so self-aware and cynical, it’s refreshing to get a horror movie that just makes fun of how serious so many other horror movies try to be. Whitford and Jenkins are easily the most entertaining characters, but I actually liked everyone. Fran Kranz delivers some big laughs as the group’s philosophical stoner and I liked seeing Chris Hemsworth slowly dissolve into a horror movie stereotype spouting out lines like “I think we should split up to cover more ground.”

The last half hour is where this film really goes all out and I couldn’t have been happier. The final act is more or less a horror fan’s wet dream and yet it’s still so tongue and cheek that I believe anyone could enjoy it. I would recommend this film to anyone, not just horror fans. This is a film that marvelously blurs the line between genres. The Cabin in the Woods is kind of in a league of its own and most definitely lived up to the hype created by nerds on the internet.