By Delon Villanueva
SPOILER-FREE REVIEW. Please stay away from trailers or TV spots, just listen to what I have to say about it. This also will be a shorter review, I’ll even skip the usual background information that I give before every review. I kind of want to cut to the chase…
The Cabin in the Woods is about five college students who travel to a cabin for a weekend. They all fit into their own stereotypes: there’s the jock (Chris Hemsworth, a.k.a. Thor), the dumb blonde and athlete’s girlfriend (Anna Hutchinson), the goofy stoner / comic relief (Frans Kranz), the surprisingly sensitive guy and obvious love interest (Jesse Williams), and the sweet and quiet virgin / protagonist (Kristen Connolly). Unsurprisingly, on our part, there is something wrong about this cabin…yet SURPRISINGLY, it’s not what we think it is. Yes, that’s all you get to know. If you’ve seen trailers or TV clips, don’t worry about it, just don’t look too into it before heading to the theater. So basically, this movie teases the horror movie genre for its cliches and twists and bends it around into something totally different. It even starts right off the bat with unexpected turns in the first scene (none of this can be seen in trailers), and as everything unexplained slowly starts to clear up, you are hooked onto how far the story can go with its surprises. The best thing about this movie, or just the best thing generally in any good movie, is that it leaves you wanting to know more and more and more without giving anything away. Even yet, you’re more involved in the story than you think by the time you reach the end of the movie. About halfway, you may think you know exactly what is happening…but the writers don’t make it that easy for you.
The direction of Drew Goddard is not the best element of this film, but instead his screenplay in collaboration with producer Joss Whedon. Goddard and Whedon take an overly used horror formula, expose it for what it is, and turn it into something way cleverer and much better. This is a very meta film, as it finds humor in its screenplay’s self-awareness of the genre more than horror in the actual plot of the movie. What I mean here is that the idea of five young adults in a mysterious cabin is not the hook of the film, but instead the ridiculousness of it by hilariously deconstructing every plot device in a generic horror movie. BUT WAIT! That’s not the hook either! Although Goddard and Whedon create a story out of the cheesiness of horror movies, then they create a horror story out of THAT story. Then, THAT story has even MORE self-awareness of itself, and it all becomes one giant movie that doesn’t know its own strength over its characters OR its plot devices, and all hell breaks loose!
Am I making sense? Maybe not. I apologize. Let me just keep simple. Go see The Cabin in the Woods. It’s hilarious, it’s thrilling, and it takes a huge stab at the overdone horror genre. Movie geeks and more open-minded viewers will absolutely love this movie, and those who eat up the crap that they spoof in it will absolutely come out confused. Though there comes my only complaint about this film, and it is that a lot of the twists are not explained how they are possible within this movie’s realm. In fact, it is hard to believe that ANYTHING that happens or appears in this movie is possible. It convinces you to just go with it, much like the technology in The Hunger Games. Luckily, I was able to let it slide, as it worked for the most part. So, for those who don’t see anything special about this movie, think again. For those who think they’ve figured out the twist, THINK AGAIN. It’s one of the most creative and smartest meta-films / horror comedies in a long time, and don’t be surprised if this ends up on my top 10 list by the end of the year.