The Cabin in the Woods Directed by: Drew Goddard Cast: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchinson, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford Running Time: 1 hr 35 min Rating: R Release Date: April 13, 2012
PLOT: Five friends take a weekend trip to a mysterious and ultra creepy cabin. A whole lot of chaos ensues.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Horror fans, thriller fans, Joss Whedon fans, and anyone looking for a unique story who can stomach the violence.
EXPECTATIONS: I was instructed not to watch any trailers so I could go into it fresh. I love horror, I love Joss Whedon, and I love horror movies involving creepy, isolated cabins. Chances were awfully good I was going to enjoy myself.
ACTORS: Kristen Connolly as Dana: Dana is the naive, wide-eyed, "virgin" of the group. I'm not putting virgin in quotes because I want to seem sarcastic about it; it's because Cabin in the Woods uses archetypes purely as a launch pad and not a foundation. Connolly is very pretty and sweet and it's difficult to watch her fighting for survival, but she does get her moment. Score: 9
Chris Hemsworth as Curt: Thor is here to up the dreaminess factor! Hemsworth is technically playing the "dumb jock," but like the other characters, he's a dedicated college student with a promising future, so he's as outside the box as the rest of the characters and the movie. If he could, he'd make the right choices, and this makes you root for him in a way that you normally wouldn't for the muscular pretty boy. The cards are stacked against him, and he's doing the best that he can. Score: 8
Anna Hutchinson as Jules: Jules is pre-med. Technically, she plays the part of the over sexed, doomed vixen, but that is only because she's being manipulated to act that way. It's an interesting spin on the annoying blonde bimbo, because she's not a bimbo and she's not usually that annoying. Unlike the peppy blondes in slasher movies with bizarrely suicidal tendencies, Jules isn't to blame for what's about to happen. Hutchinson is adorable as Jules and you will actually worry about her. Score: 8
Fran Kranz as Marty: Marty is the paranoid, philosophical stoner, but, as a friend of mine has said before, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean you're wrong. Like every other archetype turned on its head, Marty is the "comic relief," the idiotic sidekick who is there to lighten the mood. Except this time he's a crucial character who has to do some very heavy lifting plotwise. He's not just the ornamental goofball. Score: 9
Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford: ninety-five percent of the humor in the movie comes from Jenkins and Whitford, who play the middle managers in charge of getting the results. You'll know what I mean once you see the film. The characters are understandably cold to the suffering of others, but they approach their jobs with such proud middle management pride, that it acts as an absurd and hysterical juxtaposition. Jenkins and Whitford are fantastic together, playing off each other with wit and ease; they are the levity within The Cabin in the Woods. Score: 10
TALKING: Joss Whedon knows his way around quick, witty dialogue and it's the only reason we come to care at all about what happens to the college student fodder. Otherwise, you have your standard conglomeration of annoying kids — except these annoying kids say excellent things written by an excellent screenwriter, so it's a bigger bummer when something happens to them. Score: 9
SIGHTS: Holy cow, this movie is wicked cool. It's not that the special effects are above and beyond, but what you're being shown is so crazy and badass that it is literally going to knock your socks right off your feet. In fact, don't even wear socks. Don't bother. They'll just end up lost in the theater somewhere and the floor is disgusting and sticky. Score: 10
SOUNDS: The score is dramatic without being distracting, which is crucial to the movie-going experience. It deftly complements the plot, but it doesn't stand out as an entity you'd enjoy on its own. If it's a CD you'd buy, I'd give it a higher score, but really, I'm just happy when I'm not having emotional cues shoved down my throat. Score: 8
BEST SCENE: I can't come right out and say it, because it would spoil the delightful surprise. It does involve a lot of bloodshed and a myriad of living nightmares.
ENDING: So cool -- maybe the coolest ending I've ever seen.
QUESTIONS: What sort of wacky combination of marijuana is Marty smoking that protects him from the ill-effects? How is Dana able to piece it together so quickly when she should be just flummoxed and panicky? Why would ANYONE ignore the warnings of Creepy Backwoods Dude?
REWATCHABILITY: Yes please.
It is very weird to write this review for two reasons: 1) I have to stay vague, because given ANYTHING away in Cabin in the Woods is sacrilege, and 2) I spent the first sixty minutes of the movie hating it for its glib sadism. This is the first time in my life that I've invested that much time into disliking a movie, only to have the ending turn it into one of the better movie experiences I've had. Usually, it's the other way around; I love it for the first hour, and then the ending ruins everything.
I don't like watching people getting tortured and I certainly don't like watching people who are watching people getting tortured. Obviously, horror and violence go hand in hand, but The Cabin in the Woods is disturbing no matter how desensitized you are.
But what goes around comes around, which is the nicer way of saying Karma is an angry bitch with a long memory. So terrible things happen to completely innocent people, but the ones perpetrating those terrible things have something pretty gnarly in store for them, as well. When the movie comes full circle, it shifts from just-another-slasher to coolest-concept-ever.
The Cabin in the Woods is well worth the price of admission, people.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10