By: Jyllian Roach, Managing Editor
A non-spoiler review of ‘The Cabin in the Woods’
The executives at Lionsgate films earned themselves a special place in movie heaven when they bought “The Cabin in the Woods” from MGM, saving it from a long life on a dusty shelf alongside other unreleased films.
The $30 million directorial debut of screenwriter Drew Goddard (“Cloverfield”) is a genre dissection that provides a unique twist on the classic “creepy house in the woods” film with clever surprises at every turn.
Co-written by Goddard and Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Avengers”), the film opens on an immediate twist which is slowly explained over the course of the movie which moves along at a speedy but clear pace with the exception of the first 10 minutes, which are choppy and confusing.
Both plot and dialogue were witty and well-conceived – trademarks of any Whedon production. The funny moments were laugh-out-loud funny, and the scary moments were scream-out-loud scary. Don’t be fooled though, this is a horror film that makes the viewer think.
In a typical movie, the audience is looking in on the action, but in this film, the audience is looking in on an audience watching the action – an innovative plot device not seen before.
The characters were believable and as developed as needed for a horror film. Whedon fans will recognize a few cast members from some of his earlier projects: Fran Kranz (“Dollhouse”) who plays stoner Marty, Amy Acker (“Angel”, Dollhouse”) as scientist Lin and Tom Lenk (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) as awkward intern Ronald.
Special effects were incredible, detailed and frequent without being over the top.
There are few scenes with gore, but those scenes are done right. However, the film pushes the limits of disbelief suspension more than once. Characters are violently beaten into bloody pulps, but then manage to make a full recovery as soon as the beating ends.
Here is a short, spoiler-free synopsis of the movie: Five archetypal college kids, Curt (Chris Hemsworth); Jules (Anna Hutchinson); Dana (Kristen Connolly); Holden (Jesse Williams) and Marty (Kranz), go on a weekend vacation in a secluded cabin apparently owned by Curt’s cousin. It becomes quickly clear that the cabin has a bloody past and previous owners who haven’t entirely moved on — be sure to look for poor type-cast Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill, Case 39) as creepy kid Patience. To make matters worse, a group of scientists have inexplicably hidden cameras around the cabin to spy on the college kids.
Newcomer Connolly is convincing and delightful as the naïve, broken hearted Dana. However, it seemed as though the part had been written with someone else in mind for the role.
Hemsworth proves that he is more than a one-trick pony and looks shockingly young with his short haired, clean-cut look. Goddard also does an incredible job of balancing screen time between the nine principal actors.
In the end, “Cabin in the Woods” is a funny, stimulating film that redesigns a classic horror style while asking some interesting ethical questions about the nature of sacrifice. It’s also very worth seeing on the big screen.
The CNM Chronicle gives “The Cabin in the Woods” 4 ½ out of 5 creepy deserted cabins.