‘Cabin’ is novel approach to horror

Carl Bachus | Review Writer

I cannot completely describe the plot of “The Cabin in the Woods,” because it would give too much of the film away. What can be said, spoiler-free, of course, is that this movie is perhaps the most original and intellectually ambitious horror film since the original “Scream.”
“Woods” is the brainchild of co-writers Joss Whedon (“The Avengers”) and Drew Goddard (“Cloverfield”), who serve as producer and director respectively. The script is filled with Whedon’s trademark, tongue-in-cheek dialogue and contains several “Buffy” cameos. The most I can say about the plot is that it involves a group of college students who go on vacation to a cabin, and people die. Boy, do people die. What should be focused on is the intelligence of the entire film, which is intense, but extremely self-aware. It’s laden with quiet references to other horror films, even those that do not necessarily fit the infamous, cabin-in-the-woods subgenre. “Woods” also draws several comparisons to “Scream,” because it turns the entire genre on its ear. The promotional material gives you a teaser of the twist, but there are several additional twists on the twist that make this film stand out among the average likes of “Friday the 13th” and “The Hills Have Eyes.”
“The Cabin in the Woods” was filmed in 2009, and languished on the production shelf until Lionsgate bought it and released it this year, possibly to capitalize on the anticipated release of Whedon’s superhero crossover, “The Avengers.” Those with doubts can rest assured that “Woods” is not the same old, same old. A look at Whedon’s track record of films, such as “Toy Story,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog,” will reassure horror fans that his newest film is a classic in its own right.
Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) and Jesse Williams (“Grey’s Anatomy”) lead the cast of unlucky teenagers facing sudden doom. Some performances fell flat but served their purpose, while others, like that of Richard Jenkins (“Six Feet Under”) and atypical protagonist Kristen Connolly, kept the film afloat. Viewers should also keep an eye out for a special cameo by a horror/sci-fi legend. The film’s only downfall is the lack of an iconic score, like that of “Halloween” or even the “Resident Evil” films. There was an audible ambience to the film, but it could have been amplified through the inclusion of a creepy, dynamic soundtrack.
Whedon and Goddard’s “The Cabin in the Woods” is so much more than the title suggests. It’s a snarky, funny and intelligent thriller that completely flips the genre upside down. The film is incredibly ambitious and takes several risks. The end result is a bloody sucker punch that leaves you guessing until the very end.

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