The Cabin in the Woods (dir: Drew Goddard, 2012) Cert: 15
A group of teenagers. A camper-van loaded with booze and class C drugs. A cabin in the woods. Sounds all too familiar right? Well think again because Joss Whedon, the mastermind behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly isn't making anything that simplistic or predictable. Instead The Cabin in the Woods, directed and co-written with Cloverfield scribe Drew Goddard, ranks amongst the most ambitious, original and mind-bogglingly wonderful pictures of recent, and it's going to be a total nightmare to review.
Five friends decide to get away from all the stresses of life and college and head off for a weekend to a remote cabin that is believed to belong to Curt's (a pre-fame Chris Hemsworth) brother. After a short spell in the woodland location, not all is what it seems and soon the group are fighting for their survival and indeed the truth behind this deadly and secluded cabin.
The film's strengths lie within the unknown; the less you know about The Cabin in the Woods, the more rewarding and surprising it is when watching. One advises you ignore all trailers and all online information if you truly want to witness the benefits and experience the picture. For this reason, I shall not be sharing a single further plot point than the very brief synopsis above.
The Cabin in the Woods was filmed over three years ago and has been dramatically stalled in it's releasing due to MGM declaring bankruptcy back in 2009 but now under leading horror distributor Lionsgate, Goddard's and Whedon's work can finally be unleashed on the unexpected public in certainly more ways than one. Not only is this a fantastic horror movie, it's also one of the funniest, sharpest and beautifully ironic gore-fests since Scream which makes for really refreshing viewing. Each character is developed and dimensional yet there is still plenty of room to poke fun at genre stereotypes and typical character escapades. It's clear throughout that the script is the body of this film and never does the on-screen imagery silence the barking wit of Goddard and Whedon's pen.
|Still from The Cabin in the Woods (dir: Drew Goddard, 2012)|
It is also simply joyous to see such a bold and unique teen slasher present itself at a time in which teen movies have become so lazy and repetitive. With exceptions of Easy A and 21 Jump Street, there hasn't been a full-bodied teen film since the likes of Superbad and Juno and even then, all these films in question would only fall under the comedy genre bracket. The Cabin in the Woods is the horror-comedy the world has been waiting for since Scream, maybe even since The Evil Dead - it really is that good.
The climactic 20 minutes of The Cabin in the Woods are absolutely bonkers - the screen simply ignites with ferocious energy, gallons of gloop and more shocks and twists than the viewer could imagine. It ranks amongst the most satisfying and down-right mental third acts in modern movie-making.
The performances in this film are balanced and often side-splitting; Hemsworth is fantastic as Curt, Jesse Williams is the nice-guy in Holden and Kristen Connolly makes a solid leading lady as Dana but the film's stars are those who provide the most laughs. Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford are sublime in their roles which I cannot tell you a single thing about and Fran Kranz is simply bliss as Marty, the stupid stoner who actually sees a lot more than the others give him credit for. Oh, and there is also a cameo which will make your jaw drop.
In order to truly support the breathless roller coaster ride that is The Cabin in the Woods, one will now be silencing his lips and keyboard but I'll leave you with this - Goddard and Whedon's long-lost project is an absolute master-class in genre collaboration, scripting and visual design. If there is a more pleasing, head-spinning and unashamedly entertaining picture in 2012, then we are heading in the right cinematic direction because this haunted house is downright perfect.
Just go see it, even if you have to manically run, scream, trip over and beg for mercy on your journey to the multiplex.
By Chris Haydon