Movie review: The Cabin in the Woods by Drew Goddard

Directed by Drew Goddard
Genre: Mystery and suspense horror
Written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard

Cast:
Dana: Kristen Connolly
Jules: Ana Hutchinson
Holden: Jesse Williams
Curt: Chris Hemsworth
Marty: Fran Kranz

Synopsis:

Five college students, Dana, Jules, Holden, Curt and Marty, want to spend a weekend far from the civilised world, in the middle of nowhere. Curt’s cousin owes a cabin in the woods near a small lake which seems like a perfect location. They arrive there, explore the old building and find a creepy basement with all kinds of ‘toys’, a hand-written diary among them. When Dana reads some Latin verses from it she seals their destiny. Bad things are going to happen soon and they’ve just chosen how they are going to die. Or maybe not?

My impressions:

This is a movie best seen with a minimum of foreknowledge, so I’ll try to spoil as little as possible while explaining why I liked this one.

First of all there are two interwoven narratives taking place simultaneously: the one in the woods with the kids goofing around and another, at a secret bunker of the military-industrial complex, where two beleaguered company men, along with a large cadre of technicians, accountants, interns, and various other drones, are hard at work, doing—well, something spooky and definitely secret, perhaps even illegal. Soon enough you are not sure whether the whole premise is a practical joke, invented by some goverment people, or something more sinister.

 It is obvious Whedon and Goddard revel in toying with audience expectation, messing with archetypes, taking genres, chewing them up (while biting that tongue in their cheeks) then spitting them back out again in some glisteningly new form. For the most part it’s a hoot, tailor-made for those out there who like to whoop at the kills rather than vicariously drench themselves in primal terror and gore. The dialogue is sharp, poking good-natured fun at horror traditions with a twist. I admit that the spooky underground corridors, chilly vision of the future and skilful blending of horror with social comment recall a bit Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Now about the ending. The Cabin In The Woods ends up as the more biting satire on the entertainment industry, man’s appetite for violence and older people’s love-hate relationship with youth. Let me also assure you that I’m not spoiling anything by saying that. It’s clear from very early on that our two boffins are desensitised workers in an entertainment machine that regards human life as something that can be cavalierly ended in order to appease the audience.Who and what that audience is, the movie leaves teasingly uncertain until a big guest star cameo reveals all — but it may not be the answer you’re expecting.

Final verdict:
Is The Cabin in the Woods a great film? Of course not. But it is a devilishly cunning entertainment, being about 20-30 IQ points brighter than you expect it to be, a fun ride to an unknown direction. It’s much cleverer and more mature than The Hunger Games, but it’s about very similar things. If you want to enjoy it, though, DO NOT watch the trailer (that’s why I don’t publish one here.)
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10 Responses to Movie review: The Cabin in the Woods by Drew Goddard

  1. carol says:

    I had in my mind that this one would be too spooky for us, but apparently I might enjoy it. Thanks for the spoiler-less review.

  2. Blodeuedd says:

    I have already seen the trailer..so yeah, they could have handled that better

  3. Definitely. What is the point of shooting a thriller and then spoil your potential audience?

  4. heidenkind says:

    I didn't realize this was written by Joss Whedon, It does sound good! Although being smarter than The Hunger Games movie isn't much of a challenge. :p

  5. red witch says:

    It does look interesting. Normally I dislike the horror/teen-slasher genre but this appears not to fit in that category. I hope it is smart. I do dislike predictable. I wonder when M. Night Shamyalan is bringing out a new film.

  6. It is definitely smarter and funnier than your ordinary horror and it defies easy categorization.

  7. Hi how are you? I’m new to your blog. I was searching for a review on Cabin in the Woods and this came up. Now I’ve read probably every review you have on here lol! Anyway, just wanted to say THANK YOU for hitting the proverbial nail right smack dab on the head with this one. It definitely has a better I.Q. than other horror movies of late, all of which seem to try too hard to be horrific when instead they come off as pantomimes of 80’s B-horror flicks. Whedon is a skillful writer and I think he would be happy with this review. Nice job!

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