The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

2 years in Development Hell. Was it worth the wait?

Five college students, Dana (Kristen Connolly), Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Jules (Anna Hutchison), Marty (Fran Kranz) and Holden (Jesse Williams), drive out to a remote cabin within the woods to have a wonderful vacation. But, not all is as it seems.

And for the sake of everybody who has not seen the film yet, I shall leave the plot there and reveal no further spoilers. There are a number of films where people will say it is better to go into it unspoiled, this film is the prime example of that. So it is safe for you to read on and still be shocked and surprised by this film upon your first viewing.

The year was 1996. The horror genre had reached a sad point of predictability, where if it was not a sequel, prequel or a remake of an already established horror film, it was your typical film about drunken teens getting offed by a masked killer. Then Wes Craven came along and shook up the genre with Scream, a fantastic gamechanger for the genre that was rich in meta humor and self-aware of the typical horror tropes that are easily found.

Flashforward 12 years later, to the present day. The horror genre is sadly in the same state, where sequels, prequels and remakes are still being churned out, teens in films are unlikable dicks and any original ideas are strung along and turned into a whole new piece of predictability. After two years of being hidden away in development hell, the horror film from Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard has finally been released, and despite a few attempts to break away from this formula the genre has fallen into, the horror genre is even deeper into giving out sequels, found-footage flicks and films about unlikable teens getting offed one by one, so perhaps the two-year long game of hide and seek was the best thing for the film.

If you are an already established follower of Joss Whedon (like me), then it won't be a surprise of how witty and funny the dialogue becomes. These do a great job of adding some levity to the film, making it feel more fun as it lightens the film up from your standard dark and gloomy horror flick, and may even expand your vocabulary by a phrase or two.

Whedon and Goddard manage to truly set this film apart from other 21st century horror flicks with one simple thing: they make us care about the characters. The college students are portrayed as well rounded characters with more realism and likability than any other group of teens seen in a horror film in recent years. Take Curt, for instance. In the pictures and trailer, we get the impression he's the jock archetype. This assumption is mostly due to the football jacket he wears (and Chris Hemsworth's bulk presence helps to sell it), but he's a sociology major who treats his friends well and stands up for his girlfriend without needing to spout brutish lines of cliche that you'd normally expect from the jock character.

Even the reflections aren't what you'd expect

As I said before, this film is the prime example of it being better to go in without being spoiled about what happens. This is because much of the fun you get out of this film comes from how unpredictable this film gets, how you don't know what's going to happen, so that when it does happen, it's a great surprise to behold. So if anyone decides to spoil the film for you, you are within your basic human rights to rip their heart out as if you were in Mortal Kombat.

What I can tell you is that there is something going on behind the scenes of what happens to the five teenagers. These scenes, depicting the workers going about their secret duties like any average day at the office, help to give this film a unique, warped feel that ups the creepiness factor a few notches, whilst also giving slightly light-hearted moments to be enjoyed.

The ending has seen to have caused a bit of controversy, but I felt that it fit in well with the film, and will say no more about it to keep in line with revealing no spoilers.

With more twisting and turning than your average contortionist, The Cabin in the Woods is one of the best horror films to come out in many years. It manages to balance both parodying and paying homage to the horror genre, in an attempt to shake up the genre which more than works. The likable enough characters, the smart script and the witty dialogue make this a fun venture to the Cabin which you won't forget.


Myerla said…
Vacation? Vacation? You mean holiday.

Anywho, superb review. might see this tomorrow if I get the time. Causing quite a stir this one is.
Zachary Marsh said…
Awesome review man! While I didn't love the movie, you do have some good points in your review. When are you coming back to reviewing?
James Rodrigues said…
Thanks for reading man. Right now, I am currently writing 3 reviews (including one about a certain group of superheroes), and they should be posted relatively soon, provided uni work doesn't get in the way of things.
James Rodrigues said…
To-may-to, To-mah-to, you know what I mean.

If you've seen it by now, I hope you enjoyed it
Robert said…
I agree, best horror film in a while. Can't wait to watch it every year for Halloween (and probably every now and then just for the hell of it). Great review!
James Rodrigues said…
Yeah, i think this will be a film worth watching each halloween. Thanks for reading, I may just partake in that tradition as well.