Synopsis: Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for.
Stars: Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz, Anna Hutchison, Jesse Williams, Chris Hemsworth
Director: Drew Goddard
Running Length: 95 minutes
Random Crew Highlight: Japanese Frog Girl – Emili Kawashima
TMMM Score: (9.5/10)
Review: Blame it on Scream. The horror genre, specifically the slasher film, was given a rebirth with the release of the creative and scary Scream back in the late 90’s. Ever since Ghostface sliced through a pile of up and coming Hollywood actors countless films have followed that tried to reclaim the wit and wisdom that Scream had. Actually, most movies didn’t even try…they were made for a quick buck and it showed. True, the genre was given an extra dose of oomph when Saw came on the scene but that unfortunately gave birth to the ‘torture porn’ subdivision of horror and that quickly wore the audiences out. Even the entertaining Scream 4 unfortunately bombed out due to audiences being wary of another tired sequel. I’ve remarked countless times about the need for a truly good scare flick and aside from some occasional good fortune (The Descent, Drag Me to Hell) I came up empty. Good news, dear readers, our wishes have been answered. There’s a scary new kid on the block and its name is The Cabin in the Woods.
Gotta be honest from the get-go and say that anyone reviewing this movie has to step carefully. A weaker, less polished reviewer may just give away a secret of the film and that’s no good. My advice, finish up my review and then don’t read any more until you’ve had a chance to take this one in. I promise: no spoilers.
What I can tell you is that the movie is deliriously watchable and full of twists and turns you can’t see coming. What’s even better than that? Well…if you think you know what the movie is going to be about from watching the trailer you have another think coming. True, the trailer does serve its purpose but don’t think that everything is cut and dry…the movie has more than its fair share of surprises up its sleeve and you’ll thank the filmmakers for keeping them hidden for as long as they do.
Director Goddard collaborated on the script with Joss Whedon as both of them had worked together on the small screen with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Both guys seem to be exorcising some demons they’ve been longing to bring to life so there’s a real sense of pride in what is brought forth on screen. You can tell that set pieces, weapons, and actors were chosen with care rather than the fact that they simply look good. More so, while most movies go for a marketability angle in a cheap sense, Cabin in the Woods achieves this by sticking to its guns and just making countless right decisions. One of the best examples of a right decision is a cameo by a well-respected figure to horror fans…their appearance elicited applause and deservedly so.
Our cast is filled with familiar and fresh faces – to be fair to the spirit of this review I can’t reveal all the players lest I give away some curveballs. From the trailer you can see we have an appealing cast that successfully play archtypes of the horror genre. We have the jock, the virgin, the stoner, the brainy hunk, and the trampy girl. Thankfully, these roles are played with less of a wink-wink-nudge-nudge aspect and more of a “this is who I am” attitude and that actually makes these tired stereotypes seem current. I am a little exhausted with the stoner character as its seems these are the easiet to plumb a laugh from…but for the most part Kranz makes pot-head Marty fun to watch. Special mention also goes to newcomer Connolly who is near perfect as the virginal Dana. I have to give kudos to New Zealander Hutchison both for her flawless American accent and her courage to have an encounter with a stuffed wolf’s head that defies description. Hemsworth and Williams decently, if not memorably, round out our core five.
Cabin in the Woods was filmed three years ago but was put into turnaround when the original studio, MGM, went belly-up. It would have been easy for this to sit on the shelf, gather dust, and get released directly to video were it not for the saviors at Lionsgate. Lionsgate was the studio behind Saw and the gross out Hostel films – their mea culpa for giving us the Hostels and those brain-dead Saw sequels is surely Cabin in the Woods. It’s marketed well (thank GOD they wouldn’t hear of converting the movie to 3D) and deserves to be a big money maker.
Do yourself a favor and just stop learning anything more about the movie now. Don’t visit IMDB, don’t read any more reviews, and turn the channel when a preview comes on the telly. Do, however, go see this as soon as you can so no one spoils any piece of this for you. And then tell your friends to see it too! You’ll thank me for it later.