The Cabin in the Woods
A difficult film to talk about this, as it is imperative not to spoil any of its well-earned pleasures of which there are many. So no plot info or story details here – just some broad thoughts.
With The Cabin in the Woods, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (a Buffy alumni who went on to write Cloverfield) have written and Goddard directed a ridiculously clever, layered, funny, inventive deconstruction of the entire horror genre. And I mean the ENTIRE genre.
There are no real twists as such to this story as the entire story itself is the twist. The film hints pretty early on what it is doing with the genre. Where the fun comes is from seeing how far down in to the genre the movie drills and how it is going to subvert that genre before playing itself out in a third act where all bets are off and where intelligent, creative insanity rules.
Whedon and Goddard’s script works like an intricate machine operating on several levels. There's a lot going on here and multiple viewings will be needed to pick up on all the many ideas/concepts/gags being thrown at you. Whedon is a long time master of genre bending/subversion/undercutting. The entirety of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is built upon genre subversion. Turning clichés and expectations on their heads. You think something is going one way, then suddenly a complete left turn comes – be it an unexpected plot twist, a sight gag, or a pithy, witty well delivered piece of dialogue. And all those happen multiple times in The Cabin in the Woods. The script keeps you on your toes, keeps you thinking, keeps you looking, keeps you laughing. It keeps you ridiculously entertained. As a debut director Goddard does a good job. He keeps the story moving, keeping things visually and narratively compelling while managing to pull off some decent scares. He also handles the actors brilliantly.
And speaking of…
As to be expected from a Whedon ensemble project, the entire cast here is wonderful. From the athletic, heroic God of Thunder Chris Hemsworth, the sweet, brave and feisty Kristen Connelly, to the sly seen-it-all-before wit of Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins, to Whedon regulars Fran (Dollhouse) Kranz, Amy (Angel, Dollhouse) Acker and Tom (Buffy, Angel) Lenk. There's not a bum note between them. They all do great work, but especially Kranz as the witty stoner who works out pretty quickly that something is up.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Whedon geek. I’m also a major horror geek. And by the time the final act of The Cabin in the Woods kicked in I was goggle eyed and giggling like an idiot. If you are a Whedon fan like me then you will pick up on little things throughout the film from his earlier work: stuff he likes, stuff he finds creepy. You’ll also notice call backs (big and small) to ideas previously seen in Buffy and Angel. One particular creepy dude from 1st season Buffy made an appearance that got me chuckling. All I can say is it’s good job Xander wasn’t there. And, I gotta say, just seeing the opening credit ‘A Mutant Enemy Production’ was enough to give me a major happy. Luckily everything else that followed was pure and utter genius.
For me, The Cabin in the Woods is easily the best film of the year so far by a long stretch. Bring on The Avengers.
In Joss we trust.
5 (out of 5)