SXSW ’12 – The Cabin in the Woods Review



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Clever dissection of horror genre one of the most consistently fun films you’ll see this year

You don’t have to be a dedicated horror fan to enjoy The Cabin in the Woods, the long delayed film from director and co-writer Drew Goddard. It sure helps, though. The film, a twisting and often unpredictable puzzle of a film, is a love letter to the horror genre – forged from the fires of pure awesomeness.

This review is a hard one to write because the less audiences know about the movie, the better The Cabin in the Woods plays. The film rubs against with audiences’ expectations, snakes alongside their assumptions and then reels back, sticks its tongue out and transforms into a completely different movie. I know it is going to be tempting to want to know what the secret is that lies at the heart of The Cabin in the Woods and God knows there are going to be plenty of people out there on the Internet all too happy to spoil your fun but trust me when I say that this is a movie that you want to be as fresh as possible going into.

The film stars a selection of young actors including Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Franz Kranz and Jesse Williams as archetypal college students headed out to a remote cabin in the woods to have a great weekend of partying and sexing it up. There are also two blue-collar button pushers played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford who factor into things. And then there are the monsters.

When it comes to pure fun at the cinema, The Cabin in the Woods has its head on straight. Everything from the script to the humor to the creature effects work in conjunction to create a film that delivers consistent entertainment at a brisk pace. Whether it’s the tantalizing thrill of seeing a puzzle worked out in front you as the movie peels back its mysteries or just being able to enjoy the craftsman-like efficiency of Goddard as he layers on the good natured humor and scares, audiences will never be left bored during the film.

Goddard co-wrote the script with frequent collaborator and former boss Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fans of Whedon’s TV shows will find much to appreciate in Cabin‘s script. The dialogue is full of the fun, snappy banter that fans have come to expect in a Whedon project. That said, don’t expect a spoof. The Cabin in the Woods is a smart and engaged horror film that delivers just as many scares as giggles. Whedon and Goddard show a real knowledge and passion for the horror genre with their script.

The story explores and dissects the modern horror movie in an organic and clever fashion – never choking on its own tongue, planted firmly in cheek. In a genre that has all too frequently become clogged with meta-references and ironic jabs, it’s a miracle that The Cabin in the Woods feels as fresh as it does.

If there is any fault to be found in the film, though, it is the fact that some of the younger actors don’t quite prove that their stilted performances and clunky delivery are more than part of the meta-joke. Some of the performances from the cast falls flat – keeping in tone with your average horror film but feeling out-of-synch in a picture that otherwise deftly manages to rise above the limits of its genre. That said, the incredible duo of Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins help carry the film and do an admirable job hoisting the lesser actors upon their shoulders.

The Cabin in the Woods is the most fun you’ll probably have with a genre picture this spring. It’s that rare horror film that manages to be at once both new and exciting and as comfortable and familiar as a pair of well-worn jeans. Don’t miss your chance to see this film in theaters- heaven knows we don’t get the good stuff like this too often.

Director: Drew Goddard

Notable Cast: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Ricahrd Jenkins and Bradley Whitford
Writer(s): Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon

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