The Cabin In The Woods
What we liked
What we didn't
Often hilarious but rarely scary, The Cabin In The Woods is a remarkably creative and fun rant about traditional horror films and, while the ending is a bit misguided, the journey is spectacular.
The interesting thing about going to see The Cabin In The Woods is that you’re guaranteed to go in pretty much completely in the dark. Having seen the finished product, the footage from any of the trailers are from the first third of the film, and the tagline “You Think You Know The Story” only gets a tiny bit right: it’s about five college buddies going to an abandoned shack in the middle of nowhere for a weekend, only for them to start to be picked off one by one by something. What something is it? Well, unfortunately, that would be telling.
In fact, it’s a real pain in my ass trying to write this review, because there really is so much to spoil. It’s a remarkably unique film, even forsaking much of its horror for creativity, so much to the point where it’s far more funny than scary. Not unintentionally so – it is a consistently funny and often laugh-out-loud hilarious satire of traditional horror, at least in the first half, where it mocks old school horror roots with nods back to The Evil Dead and an opening that will make Funny Games lovers smile.
The five students are suitably varied as per the needs of any standard horror film – Chris Hemsworth plays Curt, a jock-style, confident ladies’ man, with Anna Hutchinson as his dumb blonde squeeze Jules. Then there’s the girl-next-door innocent Dana (protagonist newcomer Kristen Connolly) and finally Marty (Fran Kranz), the pot-smoking paranoid deep thinker who provides much of the film’s brilliant lines and laughs; it’s clear from the outset he’s the comic relief as he hides his bong by disguising it as a hot drinks flask.
But none of them are dumb. In fact, they’re all pretty intelligent, smart adults, all of whom have seen horror films before and know what not to do in scary situations. But that’s where the film gets clever – it has to approach the five in such roundabout, flanking ways that it’s not just them who are in the dark, it’s you too. It’s so unpredictable that, come the final third, you could be forgiven for believing that you’re in the wrong cinema screen.
And there’s the flaw. From the outset it’s nothing like the trailers, and the steady buildup that evenly paces comedy and horror works up to a flurry of a finale where director Drew Goddard (writer of Cloverfield) has gone all out with visual effects and his creativity spills out onto the screen like a trailer rather than a film. The final minutes are a misguided amalgamation of all the craziest thoughts of Goddard and producer Joss Whedon (director of Avengers Assemble) smashed onto the screen in a mess. But the most disappointing part of it all is that it entirely forsakes horror in place of being clever. It’s a comedy horror film but descends into complete fantasy. While it is undeniably enjoyable, it is not what’s on the poster.
So what is The Cabin In The Woods? First third comedy, then horror, then fantasy, as it pulls punches in it’s scares but has given a remarkable platform for director Drew Goddard to show off some of his most evil, screwed up nightmares. It’s truly remarkable – though not always in the ways you might want it – but it’s not the destination, it’s the journey that you enjoy, and this journey is wonderfully enjoyable.