Monday, April 30, 2012
CABIN IN THE WOODS
Starring: Bradley Whitford, Richard Jenkins, Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams
Before I went to see Cabin in the Woods, I read only one review that I knew to be spoiler free. So now that I'm writing my own review, I have no idea whether to include spoilers or to remain vague. I've decided to go for both.
Without spoilers I can say what most people have already said. This is an entertaining, meta-theatrical, self-reflexive film that pokes fun at the American horror genre and its many tired tropes. There are chuckles and blood spray in equal measures. A somewhat contradictory issue with the film is that it is likely to be the most entertaining for lifetime genre fans, which writer Joss Whedon and writer/director Goddard both obviously are. There are many references that will be lost on non-horror fans. On the other hand, the plot twist will probably be wildly irritating for seasoned cinema fans. It is the sort of film that anyone with a wider, more classical cinema base will not be impressed by. In other words, if you like stupid shit, this is the film for you.
A group of five college friends drive out to the middle of nowhere to spend some time in a, you guessed it, cabin in the woods. There's a blonde hottie and her muscled boyfriend, a nerdy virgin, a stoner, and a new member of the group who is supposed to be some sort of nerd/jock combo. Because this is a horror film, predictably nasty things happen to them. And then some things that are not so predictable.
AND NOW FOR THE SPOILERS.
I really thought the twist was going to be something along the lines of the Anna Paquin story in Trick'R Treat, where an innocent, cute girl is stalked by a sadistic masked killer wielding a large knife. When he manages to get a hold of her, she turns out to be a werewolf. The joke is on him.
I am usually disgusted with twists. They're indicative of poor writing and generally anyone who thinks they need one has a weak plot and no idea what to do with the ending of their story. Cabin in the Woods presents its subterfuge to you from the very first scenes of the film. The group of college kids are not just going to the woods. They're being monitored by a secret, underground lab full of wacky scientists. Like a gruesome reality TV show, they are manipulated to have the most horrific, painful deaths imaginable in order to fulfill a yearly sacrifice to the Old Ones, so they don't rise and destroy the world. The two surviving teens eventually figure this out and become the type of strong characters that populate Whedon's writing. Did he have to use zombies, though?
I liked the film and thought it was mindlessly entertaining. I probably won't ever see it again, because I think the meta-theatricality is something that only packs a punch once, if that. There are some nice scares, a fair amount of gore, and Cabin should be seen in the theater if possible to appreciate the full visual spectacle. As I said earlier, there's really nothing to be intellectually wowed by. The "twist" has been done before to varying degrees, but that doesn't mean it can't be entertaining another time around for viewers looking to have fun rather than be impressed by much.