Friday, April 13, 2012


From creatures to ghouls to zombies, from bloody gore to found-footage to twist endings, it feels like the horror film genre has tried everything over the past one hundred years to scare us. With all these cliché methods now feeling old and tired, the genre has felt doomed. Enter writer/producer Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard; whose CABIN IN THE WOODS doesn’t shun those old cliché’s, but embraces them with a fresh original spin that changes everything.

Five college friends; Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Dana (Kristen Connolly), Jules (Anna Hutchinson), Holden (Jesse Williams), and Marty (Fran Kranz), head to a remote cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway, only to be picked off one by one by a mysterious terror; a terror which seems to be controlled by another undefined force.

To reveal any more of the plot would be criminal, for CABIN IN THE WOODS relies a lot on its secrets. Those secrets are not revealed in a big-boffo punch-in-the-face at the end, but is slowly unfolded throughout the course of the film. During that time, CABIN takes the cliché horror-film characters of the jock, the slut, the nerd, the stoner, the virgin, and even the creepy gas-station attendant and re-defines their purpose. It doesn’t come off as a spoof or a parody at all, and instead finds a clever and original way to define the familiar pieces and parts that we have seen throughout every horror film ever made. To be clear, CABIN will force us all to look at all those old horror films in a new light; it gets at the story underneath, and the reasons why films of this genre unfold the way they do.

Filmed just over three years ago, it’s neat to see Chris Hemsworth prior to his THOR bulk, and you can see just how far he has grown as an actor. The cast is overall great, with the show being stolen by Fran Kranz (Topher from Whedon’s DOLLHOUSE), whose comedic stoner-humor keeps things light. Fans of Whedon and his prior work will likely get a thrill out of the many cameos and smaller roles by his alumni, all of which are never mishandled.

CABIN has a few good scares here and there, but it is far from the scariest or creepiest film ever made. Where it lacks in scares it makes up for in sheer entertainment; it is a thrill ride which grabs your attention early and never lets go. It’s sheer stroke of originality is almost too good in that there will likely never be any imitators or even sequels. It is a one-of-a-kind special movie that the horror-film genre has needed for a long time.


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