The lambs have passed through the gate…they have come to the killing floor
I’ll start off with a disclaimer: I’m not a fan of horror. It’s a genre mired in a bloody sludge of body parts, characters who consistently do dim things and few genuine scares. If horror is a genre that terrifies and excites viewers simultaneously, then it’s a feeling I’ve rarely had. The Cabin in the Woods is not the most terrifying experience but it is a lot of fun.
Delayed after its studio encountered financial difficulties, The Cabin in the Woods is a clever, entertaining film that playfully subverts expectations. Hollywood has recycled torture porn and nondescript ghost stories so many times, that they’ve forgotten that the genre can be fun and strange; disorientating and hilarious.
Five friends go to a remote cabin for a weekend getaway and end up getting far more than they expected. That’s it. The rules of the game are simple: make it out alive. The Cabin in the Woods works better if you go in knowing relatively little about it other than there’s a cabin and it’s in the woods. Anything more and the surprises are spoiled.
The script by Drew Goddard and Josh Whedon is a slow drip of information, spooling the plot and dishing out information in token amounts leaving the viewer relatively confused as to how everything comes together. What everything is, is better left to watching the film.
There are surprises; there are moments that are scarcely believable and they’re all sprinkled with moments of comedy that takes the accumulated knowledge of horror films and spins it in a way that’s consistently funny. Ever wanted to know why smoke appears from the ground? Or have you ever wanted to know why there’s always nudity in these films? The concept behind The Cabin in the Woods makes those answers all part of the fun.
Does the story make much sense when you start to untangle it? No. Scratch at the surface of it and there’s not much depth to it. The characters are shallow and the logic can be fuzzy but that’s the point. From scene to scene, moment to moment, you’re absolutely invested in seeing what happens next, if only to see what kind of tricks Goddard and Whedon have up their sleeves. The last half hour or so features some of the most inventive film-making I’ve seen this year.
A film that’s as bloody as it is funny, The Cabin in the Woods is a crowdpleaser. I’ve never been a huge fan of Whedon but this film has put me on the road of being a convert. The real star here is Goddard and how he assembles everything he has at his disposal, from the effective cinematography to David Julyan’s perfectly modulated score, The Cabin in the Woods is a lot like Sam Raimi’s horror films The Evil Dead: fun, gory and absolutely worth your time.