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The Cabin in the Woods (15) Reviewed

Rachel Winterbottom gets twisted in a forest thriller that's a bit of a gem

Published on April 16th 2012.

The Cabin in the Woods (15) Reviewed

SPOILERS. Watch the trailer for The Cabin in the Woods and you risk ruining what would otherwise be a genuinely awe-inspiring twist on the usual tired horror film clichés. In order to keep yourself truly in the dark all you really need to do is look at the poster to understand that this is one twisted film. However, if you must, read on.

It manages to be funny and at times downright hilarious, thanks to Whedon's signature sharp and witty dialogue.

The opening credits are exactly what you might expect from a horror film: bloody but nothing new. Then suddenly they're interspersed with a bland office scene. It feels like you're watching two films in one.

The first contains all the familiar horror tropes: five young, beautiful university students (the jock, the slut, the stoner, the nice guy and the virgin) decide to take a vacation in a lonely, creaky old cabin in the woods, despite dire warnings from a creepy redneck local. Unfortunately, they didn't bank on the hidden extras. Two-way mirrors, a basement chock-full of B-movie paraphernalia, and, of course, the family of flesh-eating zombies at their door. Clearly the naive niblets are just a slaughter waiting to happen.

Normally at this point the audience are privately taking bets on which of the walking stereotypes are going to bite the dust first. However, this is where the people occupying the office from the opening credits come into it. To reveal any more about the deviously warped plot would be criminal.

Buffy, Angel and Firefly creator Joss Whedon produces and co-writes with the director and long-time collaborator Drew Goddard. Both are well versed in attaining the fine balance between horror and comedy, and creating characters you genuinely route for. Cabin is no different. Even if you are not already an avid fan of their work, you will find much to enjoy in this film.

Cabin In The WoodsCabin In The Woods

The cast contains a few familiar faces from the Whedon Hall of Fame as well as a welcome cameo appearance from another genre stalwart. The role of the seemingly typical jock character, Curt, is played by a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth, but mostly this is a cast of relative unknowns. Fran Kranz's stoner Marty is particularly excellent as the atypical hero with sublime comic timing. This all works well for playing on the audiences' preconceptions of generic horror movie characters, how they should act and what should, by rights, happen to them.

Of course, much like Wes Craven's Scream in the 90s, this self aware number knows the rules. But while Scream explained the conventions, Cabin delves into why they might exist. The film gives cheeky nods to other horrors and their often ridiculous pitfalls, but it is clear that a lot of love for the genre has gone into making it. Aficionados Whedon and Goddard might have given the genre's tired clichés a gentle ribbing, yet they have not set out to simply create a parody. Instead, Cabin's makers intended to do something new, and for the most part they have succeeded.

The release of Cabin was delayed by three years following MGM Studios' bankruptcy. Had the film been released back in 2009, its themes of extreme voyeurism would have appeared cutting-edge and this year's The Hunger Games would have been passé. With such bad timing, in anyone else's hands this meta-horror could have seemed old hat, but Whedon and Goddard's creation surpasses being pipped to the post and still retains its originality.

Cabin handles its various layers very well. While the scares may not be as frequent, tense or sickening as your average horror strives to be, the film does not lack for satisfying jumps. It also manages to be funny and at times downright hilarious, thanks to Whedon's signature sharp and witty dialogue.

After the initial clever integration of its two plotlines, the ending is pure and glorious carnage as the film completely loses its head. Fortunately, it does this marvellously and without losing the plot. Cabin might not be wholly original (it does have to be the cliché in order to mock it, after all) but it is a lot of twisted fun. At the very least this should whet the Whedon appetite for his upcoming Marvel-fest, Avengers Assemble.


Cabin In The WoodsCabin In The Woods

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AnonymousApril 16th 2012.

Really?. This film is terrible. I went to see it on Friday and it is nothing short of wooden, cheap, and poorly acted. The entire thing lacks any credibility from the very beginning. I am struggling to understand how you can mark this film 2 points off perfect?.

TheWallApril 17th 2012.

This is a terrible film. Luckily I received free tickets, If I would of paid I would have wanted my money back. Truly dreadful! Do not waste 2hrs of your life on this!

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