Title: The Cabin in the Woods
Director: Drew Goddard
Stars: Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Kristen Connolly and Chris Hemsworth
Review by: Allan
“A bunch of mischievous sex crazed drunken youths and one secluded cabin with a secret, what could possibly go wrong?!“
When Curt (Hemsworth) and his friends jump into an RV and head out into the country for a stay at his cousin’s cabin its clear to see things are not going to end well. The group neatly fit within certain stereotypes, Curt the jock, Holden (Jesse Williams) the book worm, Jules (Anna Hutchison) the slut, pot smoking Marty (Fran Kranz) the fool and the virginal Dana (Connolly).
With booze, beer and other nocturnal activities on these youngsters mind they are already playing Truth or Dare before they have un-packed their luggage. It is almost as if they’ve never even heard of The Evil Dead. The only thing missing is a murderous axe wielding maniac or something similarly homicidal. Thankfully a quick visit to a creepy basement with a cornucopia of mysterious doom tinged knick-knacks sorts that out.
Cue the carnage, blood splattering, screaming, dismemberment, running into dark rooms and more blood being splattered. However there is something else going on in the background. What other forces are at play and what are they really up to?
From the opening frame of Drew Goddards’ directorial debut it is evident The Cabin in the Woods is not quite the horror movie one is expecting. Practically a cinematic love letter to the scary movies from the past 30 or so years the film messes around with the conventions of multiple sub-genres flitting between playing things straight and screwing with the clichés.
However it really is a film best seen without prior knowledge of plot points. This in itself is crafty because it’s hard to critique the movie without massive spoilers, which I will try to avoid as the biggest joy of watching the film is the unpredictability of the initially predictable plot.
The script is brimming with wit and ideas with equally adapt direction moving things along at a tight pace only pausing for a breath of fresh humour or bloodletting. Whedon fans will get a kick out of seeing some old favourite actors pop up and horror fans will probably require multiple watches to catch all the references to the works of Raimi, Barker and Craven.
The biggest issue is that Goddard’s film is neither scary nor funny enough. It is quite tense in places and features some truly laugh out loud scenes but it doesn’t go as far as one would hope to see from the warped fanboy minds behind some of TV’s scariest/funniest moments. Being stuck in a release limbo for over two years hasn’t dated the film a jot but the visual effects on occasion show the limits in the films budget. Thankfully the proposed post-production 3D treatment has been ditched as much like every other film it doesn’t need the pointless pointy pointy vision.
The cast are near perfect, a pre-Thor Hemsworth plays the alpha male supported by fresh faces from TV land including Dollhouse’s Kranz as the Shaggy-esque stoner and new scream queen Kristen Connolly. Jenkins and Whitford add maturity to proceedings and are as reliable as they have always been at bringing likability and depth to their shaddy characters.
In conclusion, an entertaining comedy horror in the vein of Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn and Tucker and Dale Vs Evil just don’t go in expecting too much from the creative geniuses behind Buffy, Angel and Firefly.