CliqueClack Flicks

The Cabin in the Woods – Sharp, funny and intriguing take on horror

The Cabin in the Woods - Theater Review
Release Date: 04/13/2012 - MPAA Rating: R
Clacker Rating: 4 Clacks

'The Cabin in the Woods' is a clever and fascinating movie that elevates the horror genre to new heights.

So it seems like there are two sorts of movies being made these days: 1) Loud and obvious, with every cliche out there and a vague understanding of the irony and, 2) full on irony. Really, both can be successful films, but in some ways, the hyper aware movie can be harder to pull off. Look at recent comedies 21 Jump Street and Casa de mi Padre; one goes a bit too inside, other more mainstream. Only one did well at the box office. Or look at last year’s Tucker and Dale vs Evil, an homage and parody to horror movies, executed brilliantly. But there was a movie just like that from a bit earlier — but it wasn’t released … until now.

The Cabin in the Woods (from writer/producer Joss Whedon and writer/director Drew Goddard) takes a very classic horror trope based on the titular cabin: five archetypes go on an inexplicable vacation to a creepy cabin in the mountains, far removed from civilization. The gang’s all here: the Jock (Chris Hemsworth), the Slut (Anna Hutchison), the Nerd (Jesse Williams), the Virgin (Kristen Connolly), and the Weirdo (Fran Kranz). Of course, this is a modern movie, so the jock is a sensitive honor student, the slut is monogamous, the nerd is in great shape, the virgin … isn’t quite, and the the weirdo … well he’s still a weirdo. But he’s funny. Of course, it’d be just another stupid horror movie without the twist … which I cannot divulge.

They stumble across a mysterious basement in the cabin with all manner of creepy objects. And soon they accidentally awaken some sort of evil, of course. But there’s something else going on, and the college kids must try everything to escape … You see, elsewhere some folks played by Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, and Amy Acker are working on … something. But to explain what would be to ruin the surprise. So here’s what I’ll do — the review will be spoiler-free, and then I’ll mark off the “spoilery” part of the review for the next page.

This isn’t the greatest movie ever, or ever the cleverest, but it’s a lot of fun with some fantastic homages to classic horror movies. The cast is uniformly excellent — and everyone’s having an enormous amount of fun. During my interview with actors Kristen Connolly and Fran Kranz, I asked if not being familiar or a fan of classic horror movies would lessen enjoyment of the film. They thought not, naturally, but I think that’s not quite true. I’m not even such a horror fan myself, but I’m familiar with many of the classics — although I imagine I missed quite a few references. Still, if you can’t take blood, gore, scares, or ghouls, I’d skip this one. If you haven’t seen any horror movies, the twists may seem more clever than I thought, and true horror fans will appreciate the love of the genre that permeates throughout.

So in the end, it’s well-directed, well-acted, and well-scripted movie with a reasonably interesting and unique conceit, although not quite as groundbreaking as others have opined. That’s all for the spoiler-free segment — for those who can stand a few spoilers (all within the first 30 minutes or so of the movie), continue on to the next page.

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

3 Responses to “The Cabin in the Woods – Sharp, funny and intriguing take on horror”

April 17, 2012 at 7:21 PM

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April 27, 2012 at 10:33 AM

I’m kind of surprised you didn’t include Shaun of the Dead in with Dale and Tucker for great homage/parody horror movies.

But yes, almost a week after seeing the movie I have to say I really enjoyed it even if it has some weak bits.

April 27, 2012 at 10:45 AM

In some ways, I found Shaun of the Dead to be more of a zombie movie with funny elements, but nearly identical to the movies it parodied. Tucker & Dale and Cabin went entirely other directions.

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