If anything could get genre enthusiasts and fanboys excited for a film it would be “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (“Cloverfield,” “Alias”) in a writing collaboration on a horror thriller. This is exactly what happened with “The Cabin in the Woods,” co-written by Whedon and directed by Goddard.
With this film, we get an explosion of creativity that takes the known clichés of any horror film and then goes into a completely different direction. Since this film is so fresh, witty and original in its plot, I will have to refrain from talking about the specifics that would be spoilers, and focus on the movie, actors and script as a whole.
When a group of five friends decide to head up to a remote cabin for a weekend of drinking, drugs and promiscuit, none of them realize what’s in store for them. We have every stereotype needed for a scary movie: the jock (Chris Hemsworth), his overtly sexual girlfriend (Anna Hutchinson), their brainy but good-looking friend (Jesse Williams), the stoner of the group (Fran Kranz), and, of course, the prudish virgin (Kristen Connolly).
Once they arrive at the ominous-looking cabin, the group starts to unpack and get comfortable, and even after unsettling discoveries are made, they choose to stay instead of leaving – big mistake. As the night progresses, things become stranger when a hidden cellar is found full of old ritualistic relics and items and once again the group makes the mistake of investigating when they should be running.
These disturbances unleash myriad monstrous creatures that are there to kill each and every one of them. One of the friends sees that there is more going on than they know and goes looking for answers on who brought them there and why are they trying to kill them. Can they discover the truth behind this cabin and all the strange occurrences before it is too late?
That is all I will tell you about the actual plot because this film takes the basic premise of so many other films and then goes in a different direction than you have ever seen before. Yes, it has many clichés, but it is aware of these and while it pokes fun at them, the end result is not what you’re used to. Goddard and Whedon have teamed up to produce a movie that is fun and witty.
Even though the film was made in early 2009 and then shelved until now, it is not for a lack of charisma and charm, but primarilt because of MGM’s financial troubles in 2010. They could have not chosen a better time to release the film as one if its stars, Chris Hemsworth, is in one of this year’s largest summer blockbusters, “The Avengers,” which will be released in just a few short weeks. This, along with the added bonus of such iconic filmmakers and creators as Whedon and Goddard, should be enough to drive this amusing and brilliant movie to do very well at the theaters.
The script is full of Whedon’s wit and quick-paced dialogue along with some great performances from the entire cast. While each young person plays a standard character following a genre formula, their reactions, conclusions and actions don’t. One of my favorite characters is Fran Kranz, who plays Marty, the stoner in the group. Surprisingly, his use of recreational drugs doesn’t make him more vulnerable, but helps him to be the first one to realize that something weird is going on. He has some of the funniest lines in the film and it was awesome to follow him as he weaves his way through the movie.
The rest of the cast did great as well and it was funny to see a younger and much slimmer Chris Hemsworth — as this was shot before he bulked up for “Thor” — and another fun character was Kristin Connolly, who is the most virtuous of the group, but didn’t that keep her from having a fun and explosive role in the movie. Also starring in “The Cabin in the Woods” are Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford and Amy Acker.
The bottom line is that this film takes all that we are used to seeing over and over again and goes in directions that even the most cinematically savvy movie-goer won’t see coming and it is those revelations and plot twists that make this film enormously gratifying and enjoyable. It isn’t scary in the typical sense as this is more of a hybrid horror/thriller, but you are sure to have copious amounts of laughs and thrills while watching, and believe me you want to go in knowing as little as possible.
“The Cabin in the Woods” opens in theaters April 13 and is rated R for strong bloody horror violence, language and drug use.
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