I review The Cabin in the Woods, a horror-comedy film written by Joss Whedon and directed by Drew Goddard, starring Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchinson, Jesse Williams and Fran Kranz.
I’ve wanted to try out The Cabin in the Woods ever since its release. Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly being the writer for this project had me very interested, and whilst I’m not normally a fan of horror, I thought I’d give this a try – and whilst The Cabin in the Woods didn’t disappoint, it wasn’t exactly brilliant either.
We quickly get introduced to the main cast of The Cabin in the Woods. We get a stereotypical group of teenagers Dana (Kristen Connolly), who is recovering from the ending of a relationship with one of her teachers and her hyperactive friend Jules (Anna Hutchinson). Thor also shows up too, as Jules’ jock boyfriend Curt (Chris Hemsworth). We also get the stoner Marty (Fran Kranz), and finally the guy who Curt and Jules are trying to set up with Dana – Holden (Jesse Williams). Of course, all of these characters are clichés in their own right – but the film, unlike weaker horror movies, seems to actively be aware of that.
I know the standard tropes of horror from Supernatural – but on the big screen, I rarely watch horror movies (I can count the list of horror movies I’ve seen on one hand – Sean of the Dead, Underworld: Awakening, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, most of The Woman in Black and now Cabin in the Woods makes five) however it was quickly clear to me that in the opening setup there was nothing original here. Even the gatekeeper to the Cabin, known as “Harbinger”, is a stereotypical cliché in himself, but the best part about this film is that it knows these things, and that’s what makes Cabin in the Woods far from your typical horror movie.
I’m going to try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, and this film really works best when you’re going in not knowing what’s going to happen next, serving up a good twist that is really worth sticking around for. There’s some great moments of planned foreshadowing (for example, there’s constant references to creatures who haven’t actually appeared yet – you know damn well that you’ll see them by the end) and there’s also some good moments of comic relief as well, mainly coming from Kranz’s Marty. Again, this all sounds cliché, but trust me – The Cabin in the Woods still manages to feel different at the same time.
As you might have noticed by the fact that Whedon wrote the script, The Cabin in the Woods has a very Buffy-esque feel. It’s more of a satirical approach than a direct horror/comedy but it works – and the end result is mostly very fun to watch, with the fact that it being relatively short (around 96mins) working in its favour and it isn’t really any scarier than your average Supernatural episode.
There is a few problems though that prevent this flick from being as good as it can be. The characters – there’s not one you can really care for, and you couldn’t really care whether any of these characters live or die by the end. The acting is fairly bad which is kind of expected from what is essentially a B movie, but it could have been improved all the same. The film also takes a while to get going –the first half an hour or so is relatively boring in comparison to the latter stages when the movie really gets interesting.
So on the whole then, The Cabin in the Woods is a solid movie. It’s not the best I’ve ever seen but it’s a far cry from the worst, and as a result it comes cautiously recommended.