SXSW 2012: “The Cabin in the Woods” – Review by MovieManMenzel

Forget everything you think this movie is about, because you are about to have your mind blown!

When I first saw the trailer for The Cabin in the Woods, my initial reaction was “oh no, not another crappy horror film with teens having sex and drinking in the woods.”  Shortly after seeing the trailer for the first time, SXSW announced that Cabin was going to be the opening night film of festival.  Based on my mindset from the trailers, I was really disappointed learning this news, but I guess that goes to show you marketing at its finest or at its worst, whichever way you want to spin it.

The Cabin in the Woods is nothing that one would expect judging from the trailers, the posters, or any other marketing campaign that you have seen about the film.  While the film does follow silly teenagers into the woods for dreams of booze and sex, it switches gears to something truly unexpected about 30 minutes in. In fact, I would argue that this film plays homage to almost every single horror movie ever made. I won’t go into detail, but let me tell you there is a lot more to this film then just a cabin in the woods.

I must admit before I go any further in my review that I am no Joss Whedon fan boy, however, after seeing The Cabin in the Woods, I am intrigued to watch a lot more of his work. Whedon is clearly a brilliant mad man, who has grown up loving and admiring all things horror and sci-fi. This movie is like a love letter to horror fans. If you are a horror fan, YOU MUST SEE THIS FILM. I would suggest that you don’t even dare to watch any of those clichéd trailers for the film because it will try to trick you into thinking that this movie is typical horror film, but it’s nothing of the sort. There is no doubt in my mind that horror fans will absolutely fall in movie with this film.

With that being said, this film includes everything that a horror fanatic would ever want in a single horror film. I realize that I am being rather vague, but I don’t want to ruin this for anyone. It is much more complex and offers far more than the stupid premise leads one to believe. Let’s just put it this way, there are many layers to this story and there is something for everyone even in this film even for those who usually don’t enjoy films involving scares, sexy teenagers, and drug use.

All the normal characters found in most typical and clichéd horror films are included in this film. There is everyone from the adorable dorky girl to the hot blonde bimbo. There are a lot of other people in this film as well including Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Bradley Whitford (Revenge of the Nerds 2), and a very special surprise cameo appearance that I won’t dare to tell anyone for just the fact that when this person comes on screen, I bet you will be totally psyched. Just to tease you a bit more, when this moment occurred at SXSW, applause filled the theater.

Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard have created a film that isn’t afraid to push the envelope and give horror fans something that will make them cream in their pants. This movie kept on getting more and more out there as it went on, which made it all the more wonderful. The film near its conclusion felt like it was actually a satire of the entire genre as a whole.  There are so many moments within the film where you are on the edge of your seat in suspense one moment and then seconds later laughing your ass off. There is one joke involving sacrificing a virgin that plays off so many horror films and works as a perfect inside joke to those who follow these types of films. There are other things as well, but I don’t want to ruin any of surprises at all.

Whedon and Goddard admitted to the SXSW audience that it only took them three days to write the script and that they filmed it as if it was made for them exclusively. They didn’t let anyone come in to have a say as to what had to be in the film, which says a lot about them as creative artists. I applaud them for making a film like this because you can see they are both horror fans that crafted a story that they wanted to tell.  When you see this film in its entirety, you see that it had no studio control at all, because it’s ballsy and takes risks. The story was brilliant and full of layers and depth, which is something that is rarely said about a horror film especially in recent years.

Before ending this review, I have to point out one last thing, I am no horror fanatic, but I can definitely appreciate a great horror film when I see it. Whedon and Goddard are both diehard fans and prove that they love it by giving the world Cabin in the Woods. If you like horror and I am talking everything from campy horror flicks like Evil Dead to recent television hits like Walking Dead then this movie is for you. Trust me, I know I keep on pushing this point, but if you are a horror junkie; this movie is going to be like heaven on earth for you.

In conclusion, forget everything you think this film is about, because it’s nothing that you can even begin to predict. The entire marketing campaign is just a way to promote the film, but is nothing like the film and it is done entirely on purpose to build up curiosity and confusion. This film was a complete surprise and one that I feel will only get better and better on repeat viewings. There is so much to this film that in order to catch all the references and jokes, I almost guarantee you need to see it at least 2 to 3 times. The Cabin in the Woods is definitely a must see film for not only horror fans, but for film fans alike. My suggestion is simply this: just sit back and prepare to be blown away by what people at SXSW have labeled the last great horror film ever made.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for The Cabin in the Woods is a solid 8 out of 10.

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