The Cabin in the Woods, 2012.
Directed by Drew Goddard.
Starring Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Jesse Williams, Anna Hutchison and Fran Kranz.
Five friends get much more than they bargained for during a break at a remote cabin in the woods.
THIS IS A SPOILER-FREE REVIEW.
There are some film trailers which give too much away, and there are some which do not entice you to find out more. The trailer for The Cabin in the Woods should not be watched by anyone wanting to see the film, and moreover the less you know, the better your enjoyment will be. The film itself, however, should be seen by everyone interested in horror.
The beauty of the film, co-written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, is in its successful attempts to deconstruct, parody and critique the genre whilst remaining scary and creepy in its own right. The very fact that I’m advising you to stay away from any spoilers suggests there will be a major twist or three along the way and that this is not an average slice ‘n’ dice horror picture. There is plenty of killing, but not from the usual horror film sources – let me at least tell you that much. Throughout the course of the 95 minutes, Whedon and director Drew Goddard treat us to a checklist of horror clichés, which wink and nod at the audience along the way. Once they reach the cabin, the characters turn into the stereotypes we always see - jock, slut, virgin, slacker; they are clearly not this way when the film starts, but horror conventions tell us that characters in the genre have to be this way, without any good reason.
The second and third acts are hard to write about without mentioning any of the plot for the risk of spoilers, but I can tell you that the whole story is based on modern audiences’ desire to watch young people getting massacred, and why is that? Why do we spend millions of pounds at the cinema and on DVD watching these films? What would happen if watching them die were essential to… life itself?
Like the first two Scream films, The Cabin in the Woods is clever in both its dialogue and its action, and knows the genre well enough to have the confidence to go all the way and never look back. If you’re not aware of the horror genre, you may think the film goes way beyond your expectations of what a horror film should be. But this isn’t a horror film - it’s a one-off experimentation that works. I just hope it isn’t copied like the Scream films were, because then we'll be in for a decade of Whedon-less attempts, and no one wants to see that.
Flickering Myth Rating - Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Rohan Morbey - follow me on Twitter.