Spoiler alert – . Anything you know about this film will detract from your enjoyment. The trailer gives away far too much, don’t watch it – As a matter of fact, the best thing you could do, would be to stop reading this, make your way to the nearest cinema and just watch the film. That’s actually the course of action I’d suggest for you right now.
In longstanding American tradition, five beautiful teenagers head out to someone’s cousin’s cabin for some heavy petting, class C nefariousness, nose-dribbling terror and to eventually be torn limb from limb by some homogenous manifestation of evil incarnate. Again. With magnificent poise, The Cabin in the Woods tears this lazy genre a much-deserved new arsehole. And we all have a lot of fun in the process.
It beggars belief, but this film delivers so much more than the scribes’ combined CV promises (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Cloverfield). And as a directorial first, Drew Goddard has done well under the watchful eye of the Supernatural Teen Horror grandaddy, Joss Whedon. The film is so aggressively tongue in cheek, it’s like The Evil Dead on a $30,000,000 budget, with two of Hollywood’s biggest genre juggernauts at its helm.
The layers of delightfully heavy-handed symbolism read like an introduction to the study of horror films. The pace and style are pitch perfect. It’s rare to see a film race through the gears in such a way without burning out, but trust me; you’ll be on the edge of your seat and clutching your sides, completely forgetting any shred of human decency you ever thought you had. Forget what you’ve been told. Yes, the film owes a thematic debt to Wes Craven’s Scream franchise, but within the first thirty minutes, we are into bold new territory.
The cast is appropriately beautiful: Kristen Connoly plays Whedon’s signature ‘Virgin’, Anna Hutchinson (the yellow Power Ranger, circa 2008) is the ‘whore’, Fran Kranz – the stoned ‘Fool’ and Chris Hemsworth and Jesse Williams are the study-loving jocks. But they all need a little encouragement in living up to their stereotypes, and here is where we move beyond the knowing winks of Scream and into something totally new. Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins are an absolute pleasure to behold as a unique duo of cheerily malicious supernatural bureaucrats. These two would be right at home in Catch 22 or Dr. Strangelove and here they are, blowing the cobwebs off the horror genre and buffing it ‘til it shines.
The art department could have had way more fun, but only on about quadruple their budget. The whole film is stretched to ridiculously ambitious lengths, leaving it looking pretty rough around the edges. But it’s about five beautiful teenagers going to someone’s cousin’s cabin in the woods, it’s going to look a little shoddy. If we tell you any more, you’ll hate us for it. Just go and take a visit to The Cabin in the Woods.