The Cabin in the Woods Movie Review
Written by Daniel Benson
Released by Lionsgate UK
Directed by Drew Goddard
Written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
2011, 105 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Richard Jenkins as Steve Hadley
Bradley Whitford as Richard Sitterson
Jesse Williams as Holden McCrea
Chris Hemsworth as Curt Vaughan
Fran Kranz as Marty Mikalski
Kristen Connolly as Dana Polk
Anna Hutchison as Jules Louden
Brian White as Alex Truman
Amy Acker as Wendy Lin
You have no idea how much I've been bursting to get the things in this review published. February 24th was the date of the press screening I attended and everyone was embargoed from even mentioning they'd seen the film until today. Some very cryptic Twitter conversations have gone on about “that thing we're not allowed to talk about”, only decipherable by those that were there.
But enough of that, it's time to talk about The Cabin in the Woods, the latest brainchild of Joss Whedon. Written by Whedon and director Drew Goddard, it tells the story of five friends that go for a weekend break in a remote cabin. In the woods. As both the poster and the trailer taunt you: If you think you know the story, think again.
The five friends are Dana (Kristen Connoly), Curt (Chris Hemsworth, minus his Thor hammer), Jules (Anna Hutchinson), Holden (Jesse Williams) and Marty (Fran Kranz). And what do friends do when they go away for weekends in remote cabins? They partay! They drink, they do drugs and they have lots of sex. These friends are no different, although it has to be said Marty does the lion's share of the drugs (and is one of the most consistently funny characters because of it).
During their first night of debauchery the group discovers the cabin's basement full of all kinds of antique artefacts, including a journal that once belonged to a young girl who suffered terrible abuse at the hands of her family. There's also an entry in Latin that one of the group reads aloud...
And that is as much of the plot as I'm going to talk about. To have the bigger picture of this film discussed would ruin it completely, so I urge you to see it with as little advance knowledge as possible. Let's just say that those who bemoan Hollywood's lack of originality will have an awful lot to be pleased about. The Cabin in the Woods really does deliver what it promises. It serves up countless horror movie set pieces that its audience will be wise to. Sometimes these scenes play out as expected, other times they're fiendishly twisted from what's anticipated.
Even the characters belie their apparent cookie-cutter outlines, and at the same time they make choices and act as horror movie characters should. Hemsworth and Williams bring the high-school sporting heroes while their impossibly slim girlfriends prance about in cut-off denim shorts. Marty is the waster of the group, a colossal pothead who imparts his often razor sharp wisdom on the rest of the group from behind clouds of smoke. Normally I'm totally unimpressed and very rarely warm to stoner humour in films, but Kranz channels Scooby Doo's Shaggy into a persona that is as sensitive and wise as it is hilarious.
So after being prevented from talking about The Cabin in the Woods and chomping at the bit to get it out, I'm now in a state where I don't want to say too much for fear of ruining it for anyone. Don't watch trailers and don't read reviews (if you got this far, don't read any more) before you see it. Go in fresh and oblivious and you will have the best mainstream horror experience in years. It really is that awesome.
The Cabin in the Woods opens in UK cinemas on Friday 13th April.