Review - The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods (2011), R, 95 minutes - The horror genre generally isn't at the top of my list when it is time to decide what is worth dropping hard earned cash on, but The Cabin in the Woods was the exception for me last weekend for a couple of reasons:

1) My girlfriend wanted to see it.  In all honesty, this is really the only reason that matters, although the following reasons didn't hurt either.

2) An old roommate - who has a very good idea of what my horror/slasher threshold is -  recommended it highly.

3) Joss Whedon co-wrote The Cabin in the Woods with director Drew Goddard.  And like most nerdy folk, I believe that most everything Whedon touches is amazing.

So for one of the few times in my life, I found myself really looking forward to a horror flick in the theater.

The Cabin in the Woods is a highly enjoyable film.  It acknowledges and plays with typical horror stereotypes while telling a story that keeps you guessing (or at least wondering 'what the heck is going on?'), a story that can be quite comedic at times and focuses on characters that are both well written and well acted.

The cast is excellent.  Chris Hemsworth (Thor, this summer's upcoming The Avengers), Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, Let Me In), Bradley Whitford (The West Wing, Billy Madison), and Amy Acker (Buffy spin-off Angel) are the more familiar faces, but the two that really steal the show are Kristen Connolly (as Dana) and Fran Kranz (as your not-so-stereotypical stoner Marty).  There's even a nice cameo towards the end of the film.

I don't want to say too much because I think that The Cabin in the Woods is a film that benefits from you not knowing too much going in.  The trailer is even a little borderline when it comes to this I think.  Is it about a group of college students taking off for the middle of no where for vacation?  Yes.  Do these students fall into typical horror stereotypes (jock, sexpot, stoner, virgin, etc.)?  Yes.  But even though the characters fall under these stereotypes, they aren't your typical horror fodder.  The tagline for the film really says it all: 'Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen.  If you think you know this story, think again.'

The thing that I enjoyed the most about The Cabin in the Woods was its intriguing story line.  It was almost a distraction for me from the blood and gore - which there is plenty of by the way (especially towards the end).  The characters are also very likable.  There isn't one that makes you think 'I can't wait until this guy bites it'.

Simply put, The Cabin in the Woods is a unique entry into the horror genre.  If you are a horror fan or a fan of Joss Whedon's work, then be sure to see this in the theater.  If you're like me and generally tend to shy away from such films, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised (as I did), but you may want to wait to rent it in case it isn't your cup of tea.  The more I think about the film and the characters, the more I find myself liking it.  There's a good chance that I will be adding it to the movie library when it gets released on blu-ray later this year.











*****SPOILERS*****

No actual spoilers this time around.  The Cabin in the Woods is unique enough that I'm not going to spoil anything specific.  Go check it out, have fun, then I'll be more than happy to discuss it with you!

- Apparently The Cabin in the Woods was filmed a couple of years ago, but has been in a sort of limbo because of MGM's financial issues.  Lionsgate bought the rights and are just now releasing it. I have heard a rumor that this film helped lead to Chris Hemsworth's being cast as Thor as he was working with Joss Whedon on this film and Whedon had already been named as director for this summer's The Avengers (which Thor is a part of after having his own movie last year).

- I enjoyed nods to horror films that came before - Evil Dead, Scream, Hellraiser - I'm sure there were many more, I'm just not well versed in the horror genre.

- The interactions between Richard Jenkins' and Bradley Whitford's characters was excellent.  They really added a lot to the film.  

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