The Cabin in the Woods is a horror movie that manages to be like every other horror, while at the same time be like none of them. One could say it is a post-modern horror, but one would rather not. It is definitely a film that should be watched without seeing any trailers or reading anything about it beforehand, so in an attempt to not put any enthusiastic readers off viewing the subsequent words, there will be a concerted effort to give as little away as possible.
The basic idea seems depressingly run of the mill: a group of five twenty-somethings, playing college students - consisting of the clichéd assemble of jock, whore, geek, fool and virgin - go for their vacation. In a cabin. In the woods. In the middle of nowhere. Oh dear, indeed, dear reader. As they approach their destination, they meet a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-type hillbilly at the gas station, realise the roads to the cabin are not on their sat nav and find a general aura of creepiness within the previously mentioned abode, before things eventually get a bit, well…slashy. However, right from the opening scene - which introduces the extremely entertaining characters, Sitterson (Richard Jenkins; Six Feet Under, The Rum Diary) and Hadley (Bradley Whitford; The West Wing) – it is obvious this film is far from run of the mill and is, in fact, strikingly original. You can gauge how tongue-in-cheek the movie’s humour is, with the following taglines; ‘If an old man warns you not to go there... make fun of him.’ and ‘If you hear a strange sound outside... have sex.’
The main players behind this beautiful madness are Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Avengers Assemble) and Drew Goddard (Buffy, Angel, Lost, Cloverfield). They co-wrote it and the latter directed. There are nods to Buffy and Firefly within this and plenty of Evil Dead and other horror references. There is actually quite a resemblance to Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, too; not just the huge red font used for the title, but also its take on violence, voyeurism and desensitisation. The film was actually shot in 2009, but the release date was postponed because the studio wanted to convert it to 3D. Thankfully, Whedon and Goddard objected and subsequently the plans were scrapped for the traditional, none-headache-inducing and perfectly adequate 2D.
The audience are drip fed information about what is happening at a perfect pace, making the film interesting throughout. The majority of the best humour and intrigue comes from the Sitterson and Hadley scenes but there is definitely lots of fun to be had at the cabin, particularly as it gets into the second act. The Cabin in the Woods is not perfect, of course - for what and who is? – but it is all way too much fun and unpredictable to notice the few minor cracks. So, to end with another of the movie’s taglines, which seems rather fitting; ‘Quaint abandoned property... sold’.
The Cabin In The Woods official website