What better way to start off the month of Halloween than a horror review, eh?

This one’s a Must-see!

Horny, stupid young people. Who else could end up in such a trap, eh?

Intelligent, funny and admirably unpredictable

It is rarely easy to make a slasher horror film work if it’s using some of the oldest and most familiar of clichés and tropes imaginable. But, much to the surprise of I think everyone who saw it, The Cabin in the Woods is no such film, nor is it even a straightforward parody of these tropes. Instead, it uses them in what can best be described as a test for horror fans who think they got it all figured out.

The Cabin in the Woods is the latest picture from frequent J.J. Abrams-collaborator Drew Goddard and Avengers/Firefly creator Joss Whedon. It serves to test the hardcore slasher-fans in the audience and see if they can predict what’s about to happen in the story, promptly proving them wrong after each usually correct guess. It is one of the most fascinating horror films of recent years, to be certain. Whether all will appreciate it, however, is arguable.

The premise is probably the most basic one conceivable. We got five friends; Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Dana (Kristen Connolly), Jules (Anna Hutchison), Marty (Fran Kranz) and Holden (Jesse Williams) who travel in their comfy winnebago out in the woods, searching for a place to spend their summer and just have fun. They reach a seemingly abandoned cabin and since this is just another horror film it must be a haunted one, right? Right there is the first twist! The cabin, you see, is not haunted, at least not in the traditional sense. Though we find this out quite early so at least this ain’t no spoiler.

This cabin is, in fact, an experiment. Part of one, anyway. A big one. Most of the enviroment surrounding it is under control by some underground facility, and a side story is dedicated to the two overseers, technicians Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and his partner Hadley (Bradley Whitford) who are the ones controlling and observing this particular area, meanwhile causing most of the things that occur to these teens (who are obviously not teens but that’s the whole point). What this facility does or who these two gentlemen work for would all be a crime to reveal but let’s just say that they could easily be the villain of every clichéd horror movie ever made, which would make them infinitely more interesting.

Our main characters are, naturally, derived from many of the classic stereotypes. Hemsworth plays the jock, Marty is the crazy stoner, Dana is the awkward smart girl, Holden is the nice nerdy guy and Jules is the dumb blonde. The stereotypes are intentional, played with and acknowledged in-Universe and it makes the characters more interesting. Still, I actually found myself rooting for the sadistic employees at the facility behind it all. Call me twisted but that’s the truth. By the way, another character is played by Jodelle Ferland, who appears to be in bloody everything this year.

The Cabin in the Woods is a memorably unique and wickedly unpredictable film that remains entertaining throughout and continues to surprise the viewer, even when they’re probably certain that there cannot possibly be any more wicked surprises. The movie is intelligent, witty, creative and wonderfully gory when the time finally comes to satisfy the viewer’s bloodlust. Playing with the expectations of horror enthusiasts in such a way is a ballsy move and one of my recent Facebook updates, in which I gave Cabin in the Woods some warranted praise, proved (in the form of comments from friends) that not all horror-lovers will appreciate this little game of Goddard and Whedon’s, possibly due to having come to regard clichés as actual necessities in any movie. And that is not a good thing. Though it could also be because the film was meant more as a mockery than a tribute and fans of the genre felt offended.

I still believe some praise must be given to those who dare to try out something new, especially when still using something old, so to speak, and when most modern, young, horror-loving movie-goers have been brainwashed by all them trite clichés into being picky about what should actually be on film. Cabin in the Woods has a plot that could really potentially be the plot of any other slasher film out there, especially those set in a cabin or a forest. The ultimate, but still most sensical twist of them all would be if that was indeed the truth, which blows my mind in hindsight. There is some genuine wit behind this project, but it’s only to be expected from Mr. Whedon at this point, isn’t it?

Though no longer available in theaters – I do wish I’d seen it at a screening, though, just to get a glimpse at how people reacted when leaving the theater – it’s nevertheless a recommendation for your next DVD-purchase. Especailly if you really, really-really think you know what you’ll get. If so, then this one’s definitely for you, smart guy.

Hope you enjoyed my post and expect me to try to stick to more horror-based reviews throughout the entirety of October. Let’s go!

5/5 whatever

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