For those of you that have long lamented that the horror film genre has been in an extended rut and that Hollywood has not produced a single original piece of original storytelling outside of the odd Inception, I enter into Kangaroo Court with Exhibit A: The Cabin in the Woods.
Long gestating on the shelves of the bankrupt MGM Studios, The Cabin in the Woods comes courtesy of writers Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard with Goddard also taking on directing duties. Goddard is most known for his writing of TV’s Lost and Alias coupled with a screenplay credit for the monster film Cloverfield. Whedon is a geek-god who was responsible for TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is Loki deep in his directing effort of The Avengers due out later this spring. Their collaboration here in The Cabin in the Woods is a dream team that executes their understanding and appreciation for the horror genre with the precision of a brain surgeon.
Much has been written about the twists and turns in The Cabin in the Woods and how audiences will find themselves best served by entering the theatre with a clean slate clear of expectation or revelation. We will ensure that intention is maintained here.
We hate to use clichés such as calling a film ‘something you have not seen before’, but that is exactly the sentiment we wish to relay on The Cabin in the Woods behalf. And since we are restricted in our forwarding description of the unraveling plot, let us stick to the basics.
The Cabin in the Woods stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Anna Hutchison, Jesse Williams, Kristen Connolly, and Fran Kranz as your usual hodgepodge of stereotypical horror fodder. Hemsworth plays Curt, the jock. Hutchison plays eye candy Jules. Williams and Connolly play Holden and Dana. Holden is the smart/shy one while Dana is portrayed as virginal. Lastly, we get Kranz who is the stoner of the group and the source of much of the film’s non-tongue-in-cheek humor. Richard Jenkins (Let Me In) and Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) have supporting roles in characters whose intentions are revealed early, but are still better off as the Oz behind the curtain unexplained in any formal review.
These five friends head to a remote cabin in the woods and that is probably the best place for us to stop revealing anything more than what the trailer provides. To say that things go ‘off the rails’ would be an understatement.
There are plenty of wink-wink nod-nods to horror fans. The kids find a book hidden in the basement hat just may unleash evil a la The Evil Dead. And there may be a few scenes and moments during the brisk 95 minute running time that have you thinking Cabin in the Woods resembles the smart intellect of the first Scream film.
But make no mistake, The Cabin in the Woods stands alone on its own merits and although it does use some of the usual clichés (cell phones don’t work, old scary man gives group warning), Cabin in the Woods remains as the most unique and original films – let alone a horror film – to come along in many an eon. It is very confident in its progression and is somehow able to walk the line of giving audiences scenes that we have seen done hundreds of times before, yet making them feel fresh and unsullied.
Much like The Sixth Sense, Primal Fear and Fight Club, a few months from now when everyone and their brother has seen the film will give us the freedom to talk about the story and discuss at length the I-did-not-see-that-comings. But as for now, we have to remain mum on the subject and our heralding will only be about the how wonderfully original the film was and not about the details of the fates, frights or freakish supernatural element that made The Cabin in the Woods one of the best films of the year.