April 24, 2012

Movie Review: Cabin in the Woods

Let me begin by saying if you have not seen Cabin in the Woods, stop reading this, do not read anything about the movie and go see it. This will still be here when you get back. In all seriousness,Vathis is one of those movies where the less you know aout it, the better the experience. After you have seen it, you are goi g to want to sit back down and watch it again. I have only seen it once so far, but it is the sort of movie I suspect will reward multiple viewings. Once you know what is going on, you will be free to look at the other details and references that are surely strewn throughout the film.



I like to think that's did a pretty good job in avoiding the details. I knew just a little bit about it so most of the movie was a surprise, and what a surprise it was. This is one of those movies that takes a look at genre conventions and boundaries and proceeds to smash them to bits. Cabin in the Woods takes your expectations and turns them completely around, then when you think you have a handle on things, It twists them away again.

Cabin in the Woods is a movie that is difficult to talk about in non-spoilery fashion. I walked out of the theater with my friends talking about just how awesome the movie was, about our favorite parts, and how it completely exceeded our expectations. This is genre filmmaking at its finest, it pays homage to where we were and forges ahead in new directions to show the possibilities.


Granted, this may not be a movie for everyone, it is a horror/science fiction hybrid with healthy doses of comedy, silliness, gore, and jump scares. It helps to be into that sort of thing, and I am.

The movie starts with a couple of guys in lab coats (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) discussing their current project. They are joined by a woman in a lab coat (Amy Acker) and engage in some comedic ribbing about the success of the respective departments in achieving their goals. It is an odd conversation as we have no context to put it in. The talk is cut short by a smash cut to the title card.

The scene shifts to a college campus where a group of friends are getting together for a little getaway to the woods. You know, the typical sort of early scene for a movie of this type. The group is comprised of the usual collection of stereotypes, the jock, the hot chick, the brain, the goof, and the nice girl. Together they head off into the wilderness with the promise of no cell phone signal.


Along the way they stop at a rundown as station and meet the grizzled old weirdo who runs the place and warms them from heading in the direction they are going. Of course our collection of types ignore his craziness and head along their way. They eventually find themselves at a rundown old cabin with nothing else around. This is where the fun begins.

It is truly fascinating to watch this story play out. We watch the friends acting goofy, we see the guys in the scientific facility going about their work, we see the hints of the bigger picture being laid out before us. Cabin in the Woods works as a horror, but also as a clever deconstruction of the genre. It takes the formula that we are all familiar with gives new definition to it, gives it a reason to be.


In addition to the wonderful way the story plays out, the film is executed well in many other fashions. It is not going to win any awards for its acting, but the ensemble cast play quite well together, they have good chemistry and I believed hem as friends and coworkers. Editing is solid, there is a good pace, and the effects are well realized as well.

The bottom line is simply that this is a great movie and it is a shame that it took so many years for it to reach the big screen. We should all be thankful that it did finally make it into theaters, the least we genre fans can do is go out and support it and drag along everyone else. This movie has laughs, scares, thrills, intelligence, and is just flat out fun.

The movie was crafted by director/co-writer Drew Goddard, making his directorial debut (he also wrote Cloverfield), and writer Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, The Avengers). These guys make a great team and I hope they get to team up again.

Highly Recommended.

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