Director: Drew Goddard
Writers: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
Rated: R (violence, language)
Cast: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, and Jesse Williams
IMDb/trailer | Official movie site
Cabin in the Woods had a lot of promise. It’s written by Joss Whedon, which guarantees a fan base, and Drew Goddard, writer of the clever and funCloverfield. It got some decent buzz in the horror community upon its release, and the trailer left a lot of questions to be answered, which naturally made me very curious about it.
Sadly, as it often happens, the film leaves me with a different feeling than my expectations. I try to avoid hearing about movies I haven’t yet seen for this specific reason, but what are you gonna do? Either way, Cabin in the Woods definitely had some things that were noteworthy, but far from being the film to reinvent horror.
The setup is one we’ve seen many times before, but this of course is by design. A group of 5 stereotypical college kids venture to a remote cabin for a getaway. They make a stop at a very cliche service station with a very cliche hillbilly attendant that gives them a bad vibe about the trip. We’re also flipped back and forth between a high-tech looking control room with a bunch of goofy guys in ties making bad jokes as they monitor the group.
As I mentioned, this all becomes very obviously by design once we see the control room. However the film is more than just an elaborate rip on horror cliches? I immediately got an Evil Dead vibe once they arrived in the cabin, and there are a few other nods throughout. The homages and jokes are clear, but the filmmakers desperately try to make this something more and clever.
The main problem I had with the film was that the setup made me lose interest. While the film had a very interesting reveal towards the end, the build up was predictable, be it intended or not it still made me feel impatient and irritated the majority of the time. To top it off, the cutout characters were unlikeable to the point you look forward to their inescapable deaths. Again this is intentional, as it all builds up towards something bigger at hand, but nonetheless it was fairly annoying.
I mentioned the big reveal towards the end, and that really is the icing of the movie. The clever explanation behind the mystery of the film was unique and interesting, and there are some wild events that take place that really make one think WTF?! There definitely is a lot to appreciate with this film, and it makes for an entertaining time. I just can’t help but feel all the film’s effort was in the ending and everything leading up was too convenient and lacking anything really interesting. I think it was meant to be both an homage and challenge to the horror community, and while it achieved what I think it sent out to, I still felt slightly unfulfilled. Though I was let down with many aspects of the film, it certainly is a welcomed change in today’s horror scene.