The Cabin in the Woods
Horror Reinvented

It all sounds so clichéd: five college students—the jock, the good girl, the brain, the sexpot, and the pothead—travel to a remote lake cabin for some unruly fun.  Of course, cell phones get no reception where they are going, and to get there, they need to stop and get directions from a creepy hillbilly.  We all think we know where this movie is going—even the characters in this movie are often aware of the clichés that they are walking into—but when it comes to The Cabin in the Woods, it turns out we have no idea.

Co-writers Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, who also directs, pile on every horror movie cliché in the book and then use them to spin the story in a completely new direction.  The result is the most entertaining horror movie this writer has seen in a long time.  It is also probably the most self-aware movie to hit the horror genre since the first Scream.  To give away any of the movie’s plot points is to spoil the fun, so we’ll just skip the plot description all together.  All you really need to know is the basic premise and then you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

The Cabin in the Woods was actually filmed way back in 2009, but got lost in the shuffle when MGM declared bankruptcy.  In fact, it was shot so long ago that then-unknown actor Chris Hemsworth played the role of Thor twice—in 2011’s Thor and Whedon’s upcoming The Avengers—in the interim.  Fortunately, the movie finally found a new distributor in Lionsgate and will get an audience.  What’s impressive is that in this increasingly online age, the movie’s secrets have remained just that, secret.

Whedon and Goddard on set with The Cabin in the WoodsIn addition to its many clever plot twists and play on the horror genre itself, what makes The Cabin in the Woods work is that it remembers to be fun.  Too many horror movies nowadays focus so strongly on scaring the audience or piling on the blood and gore that they forget that the main reason the audience is there is to be entertained.  In addition to being frightening—I was constantly afraid of what was going to happen next—and jolting—I don’t think I’ve ever jumped so high at a title sequence—the movie also has a great sense of humor.  Much of it comes thanks to Marty, the film’s pothead, whose reactions to the questionable choices of his fellow characters are priceless.

The fun really amps up in the second half, which, again, I don’t dare talk about here.  I will tell you that there is one specific moment when the movie might as well have been flashing a “buckle your seatbelt sign,” because it is obviously about to get crazy.

The Cabin in the Woods is bound to be a big hit with horror fans and should also please those that are less inclined to watch a horror movie, but love great entertainment… as long as they don’t mind a little blood and gore—okay, a lot of blood and gore.

The Cabin in the Woods is rated R for “strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use, and some sexuality/nudity.”  It’s all true, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of The Cabin in the Woods.