Monday, October 8, 2012

Horror Film Review

The Cabin in the Woods (2011):  Wow.  That  I sincerely thought nothing could surprise me anymore when it comes to horror.  Boy, I sure do love being wrong sometimes.  This is a big-budget, Hollywood endeavor involving the likes of co-writer Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly, Avengers) and actor Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Snow White and the Huntsman, Avengers) so needless to say the pre-release hype was relentless.  No way it could meet expectations, right?  Just another bloated, over-hyped waste of our time, right?  No, and no.  Cabin ranks right up there with The Evil Dead, which is ironic because...

Five friends travel to a remote cabin in the woods.  In the creepy cellar, they read from an old book and inadvertantly raise evil from the grave.  Yes, I know.  At first blush, this movie could be the remake of The Evil Dead since it's the exact same plot.  Even the cabin is eerily similar to the one outside of Morristown, TN used by Sam Raimi and company.  So how is it different?  In what way is this not just another cookie-cutter cliche?  In every way imaginable.

The parallel storyline takes place in a huge underground facility where Sitterson, played by Richard Jenkins (Let Me In, The Broken) and Hadley, played by Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) are manipulating the situation at the cabin via super high technology.  Think The Truman Show but in this case, the end game is to kill the five main characters.  Why?  I won't ruin it for you.  And why do they go about it with such nonchalance and humor?  They do it a lot.  And you know how folks in horror movies always do the stupidest things, like have sex in the creepy woods or take a shower in the middle of the night or read incantations aloud?  This moronic behavior explained.  SPOILER:  Toward the end when everything has gone badly for the hi-tech puppeteers, we witness nearly every villain, creature, entity, or...thing from every horror flick ever made unleashed all at once in the facility.  Giant serpents and spiders, killer clowns and zombies, werewolves and ghosts, and even a guy who could be Pinhead's cousin.  It's as hilarious as it is gory, and brother, it's really gory.  Basically the last 20 minutes of the film are a horror fan's wet dream.

If you think Wes Craven's Scream was the last word on the satirization of the horror genre, think again.  The Cabin in the Woods is a much better film.  It doesn't give you that wink and nudge, look-how-clever-I-am feeling like Scream does.  Cabin transcends self-mockery, opting instead to celebrate and legitimize all things horror while at the same time turning it on its ear.  It's a hell of an idea and to pull it off so beautifully...simply amazing. 


Acting:  Whitford and Jenkins are an absolute hoot.  The five friends all do well.  Hemsworth is Curt, the jock.  Kristen Connolly is Dana, the virgin (sort of).  Anna Hutchison is Jules, the slut.  Jesse Williams is Holden, the virtuous intellectual.  And Fran Kranz is Marty, the stoner. 
Story:  What's a step up from unique?  Possibly the most original horror story ever filmed. 
Direction:  Drew Goddard, who co-wrote it with Whedon, sits in a director's chair for the first time and does a better job than most veteran horror helmers.  Impressive.
Production Values:  With $30 million to play with, there's no doubt it's going to look good.  My one major complaint is the lighting.  All of the scenes with the zombies in the woods are too dark.  Even with all of the lights out in my living room, I could barely tell what was happening. 
Gore/FX:  Yes, there is gore and there are FX.  Buckets.  Loads.  Tons.  Gobs.  They could have just called the movie Blood and CGI.  The computer effects are on par with what's in films like Avengers, and the blood is, well, bloody. 
Scares:  Not many.  Although the scene in which Jules French kisses a stuffed wolf will have you on the edge of your seat.  No, really.
Ending:  A work of art.
Verdict:  Should you see The Cabin in the Woods?  Not to put too fine a point on it, but...YES!  It's required viewing for all horror fans. 

Rating:  5 out of 5.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, thanks for the review! It looks like I've been missing out, because honestly I haven't seen this movie yet. I've had a lot of coworkers of mine at DISH tell me how awesome it was in theaters though, so your review definitely goes to prove they are right. I'm not usually one for purchasing movies right out of the gate, so I'm going to rent it first with my Blockbuster @Home package and then go from there. I’m very excited to check it out; especially with Halloween right around the corner! :)