Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

May 14, 2012 in Movie Reviews, Reviews by pacejmiller

I seriously cannot believe that The Cabin in the Woods, co-written and directed by Cloverfield screenwriter Drew Goddard and co-written and produced by the legendary Joss Whedon (he has to be now, after The Avengers), almost went straight to DVD.

I don’t care if it was because the studio was experiencing financial difficulties – while crappy torture porn and gimmicky 3D horror movies (you know what they are) continue to flood our cinemas, one of the THE best horror movies in recent years was on the brink of being shafted directly to the small screen. Are you kidding me?

It’s really hard to talk about The Cabin in the Woods without releasing a cascade of spoilers, so I’ll be careful. It has a typical teen-slasher premise – five college kids (three guys and two girls, led by Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth) with varying character traits go on a holiday to some in-the-middle-of-nowhere cabin in the woods, where nasty stuff is bound to be awaiting them.

But you see, the clichéd set up is only part of the film’s genius. This is a brilliant, incredibly creative horror movie that pays homage to the classics of the genre and tears down just about everything that has gone wrong with horror in the last few years.

Whedon called it a “loving hate letter” to the genre, which he and Goddard felt had devolved with the introduction of torture porn (and you know it absolutely positively has). This is what he had to say:

“On another level it’s a serious critique of what we love and what we don’t about horror movies. I love being scared. I love that mixture of thrill, of horror, that objectification/identification thing of wanting definitely for the people to be alright but at the same time hoping they’ll go somewhere dark and face something awful. The things that I don’t like are kids acting like idiots, the devolution of the horror movie into torture porn and into a long series of sadistic comeuppances. Drew and I both felt that the pendulum had swung a little too far in that direction.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you again, Joss Whedon.

What I love about the film, apart from the scares and thrills, and the flat-out awesome laughs, is that it is presented as a giant mystery that keeps everyone guessing right from the beginning until the very end. You see, there is another part to this movie, outside of the cabin, that will have audiences wondering what the heck is going on. And watching the mystery unravel, piece by piece, is a huge part of the film’s charm.

The film reaches an apex about 15 minutes or so before the end, at which stage the mystery was explained to a level of perfection. I would have been happy for things to end right then and there, but sadly, the film just couldn’t help itself and kept going until it spiralled out of control. Granted, there were some magnificent scenes in those last few moments, but the “final revelation” really ruined it for me.

Nonetheless, despite the unfortunate turn of events stemming from Whedon and Goddard’s desire to “explain everything”, The Cabin in the Woods borders on an instant classic – it’s one of those rare films that has the potential to spur a new generation of horror movies like say Scream or the original Saw. When all is said and done, this is one I’m going to be remember for a very long time.

4 stars out of 5