David Harley On ‘The Cabin in the Woods,’ Write Your Reviews Now!

The Cabin in the Woods Lionsgate 2012

Lionsgate’s uber slasher The Cabin in the Woods couldn’t have been released at a worse time (for us) as we’re still working 24/7 at building out this brand new site. It’s still unclear to me how the review database is going to work, but poking around has me extremely excited. For the sake of time, we’re adding David Harley’s thoughts on Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s beast right here on the front page, a perfect place for you guys to chime in and then move to write your own reviews. Personally, I too was a fan, so whose review do you agree with more?

In the R-rated horror flick now in theaters everywhere, “A group of friends at a cabin retreat scratch the surface of something so massive and horrific that they can only begin to fathom it as time quickly runs out. If you think you know this story, think again. ‘Cabin in the Woods’ is a mind-blowing horror film that turns the genre inside out.

Read David Harley’s review below!

The biggest question surrounding The Cabin in the Woods* has nothing to do with the numerous surprises or unique framework, but rather why nobody picked it up to get it out of MGM bankruptcy hell sooner – the post-conversion nonsense certainly didn’t help much either (neither did all the legal tape associated with it, but I digress), and thank God they didn’t go down that road. The film plays out as an assimilation and exploration of horror tropes, seen from one perspective and lived out by another, that culminates into the most batshit insane third act since Dead Alive‘s lawnmower and rooftop brawl combo. It’s almost as if geek favorite Joss Whedon and wunderkind writer Drew Goddard cracked open their heads and let all their horror memories flow out, and then scrambled them up into this really weird, engrossing meta approach. Cabin in the Woods might not change your life and time will tell if it serves as a template for where the genre heads next, but one thing it’s definitely not is unoriginal.

Although the marketing is touting a “huge secret,” the truth is that the film doesn’t blindfold the audience and pull the rug out from under them in the eleventh hour. From the very first frame of the credit sequence, Goddard and Whedon begin laying the groundwork for dual perspectives, which sees a group of clichéd teen archetypes (Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Connolly among them) heading off to a relative’s cabin in the middle of nowhere and two white collar workers (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) in an office of sorts at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The connection between the two is unclear at first, but becomes apparent when the kids arrive at the lodging for their weekend getaway.

The two point of views, which is undoubtedly the biggest reason why Cabin works, also acts as a double edged sword in the sense that one of them is significantly more interesting than the other. The group of friends, while not annoying, too smug, completely unfunny or any other negative adjective, seem like they’re there, at times, to merely serve their purpose in the structure of the movie. The inner workings of the film makes it a necessary evil for them to act cliché as the purveyors of their waking nightmare, comment on and play with those conventions, but aside for the screen presence of Hemsworth and Dollhouse alumni Fran Kranz (a stoner that isn’t completely obnoxious!) and one scene that drags on for big laughs, there’s nothing extremely captivating about their survival. The real meat and potatoes of the script – and the best lines – lie elsewhere.

Once Cabin enters the third act, the more predictable and familiar bits suddenly become a safety net of sorts in hindsight, a false sense of security, as the remainder of the film ventures off into what can only be described as a set piece that makes it extremely hard not to imagine Ballroom Blitz playing over. While frenzied and unexpected, Goddard and Whedon keep it from teetering over the edge into being pure overload; it’s certainly over the top, but not too much to take in.

Cabin in the Woods is fun and has some strange, unpredictable moments, but it’s more clever than flat-out brilliant. Goddard and Whedon really complement each other and make the material approachable and enjoyable for those lacking extensive genre knowledge, a feat considering all the nods it contains – especially to one of the greatest authors of all time. The protagonists aren’t interesting ninety percent of the time and left me waiting for Jenkins and Whitford to continue their shtick, but it’s great to see a team willing to go that far out on a limb, be that weird, and succeed more often than not over the span of one narrative.

*I really hate putting “the” in front of the title, it sounds better without it

4/5 Skulls

  • djblack1313

    i’m going to see this in about an hour and i’m very excited! actually this weekend it looks like us horror fans got 2 goodies. this movie and DETENTION! and David Harley, i agree regarding the title. it sounds better CABIN IN THE WOODS!

  • BabyJaneHudson

    Going in with medium expectations, but it looks like some gory fun.

  • BabyJaneHudson

    OMG – just found out its playing at our drive-in!

    • David Harley

      Now that’s awesome.

    • Accident-with-power-tools

      Wish we had drive ins in the UK, they look retro tastic…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000175910148 Valentino Amparan

    i cant fucking wait to watch it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000892947849 Brandon Montero

    this is one of the best movies ive seen in a long time. im a very big horror movie fan so im always just waiting for a really good one to come out and this one made up for all the time i had been waiting its gonna be hard for a another movie to beat it this year i think everyone should go watch it :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/mattiemovie Matthew McComish

    It’s great, really enjoyed it. Kinda wished I hadn’t read the screenplay first… but it was hugely enjoyable. The 3rd act will be remembered for a long time!!!

  • EvilHead1981

    The movie was pretty good. All the character were likable and the jokes were hilarious. Better than Drag Me to Hell, most definitely, but god tier horror flick, I don’t think so. Good, but not great. I also hope it’s not the route the horror genre will try to emulate in the future. It’s good for THIS movie, but oversaturation is a bitch. Just because one movie does it right doesn’t mean every movie can.

  • Aaron Emery

    I thought it fantastic. The 3rd act is incredible, and definitely went above and beyond my expectations.

  • ThunderDragoon

    Such an amazing movie. It blew me away. I can’t wait to see it again. I couldn’t have asked for more.

  • Nothing333

    I’m on the. “i adored the fuck out of this movie” bandwagon. Original horror done smart more movies of this caliber please.

  • zaglewiz

    I went last night and had my expectations up so high it wasn’t even funny. Then about 45 minutes in I realized that I was watching what could have passed as a R rated Scooby Doo movie without Scooby. I’m not kidding! The pothead guy must have studied anything and everything to do with Shaggy over the span of the shows creation that it must have been an inspiration. I wanted to LOVE this movie but found myself annoyed to hell and back at how everything was set up, and the acting being just like I said, compared to that of a direct to video R Rated Scooby Doo movie. However the set up, the story line in general, and some random funny moments didn’t make it a terrible movie however I just found it to be to “hokey?” is that’s the proper word. I’m sure after its released and another 1 or 2 viewings might change my mind but for right now I could only rate it 6 out of 10.

  • Accident-with-power-tools

    Going tonight, most excited, but at the same time have a feeling it looks a bit naff, so hears to hoping

  • djblack1313

    zaglewiz, LOL. i never thought of the Scooby Doo vibe but now that you say it YOU’RE RIGHT! lol. it did kinda have that feel to it. another review i read said the script/movie felt like an unused ANGEL/BUFFY ep that they decided to make into a movie (not in a bad way). i liked it and had a good time but i didn’t love it. i DO like Joss but he’s terrible when it comes to making seriously scary looking creatures/monsters. the only monsters i found “scary” on BUFFY were the “Gentlemen” who stole people’s voices. the creatures in the 3rd act looked hokey like they used to on Joss’s tv shows. that being said, it was definitely a worthwhile viewing and i’ll buy this on dvd when it comes out! i give it a 6 out of 10.

    • zaglewiz

      I’m glad that I’m not the only one who felt this way djblack. I mean I’m not putting down the movie at all. Hell its the best horror movie I’ve seen this year :D! That is until Promethesus comes out ;) Other than that besides the little twists, turns, etc etc it wasn’t really anything special. Just a run of the mill homage, clever idea and set up, etc etc horror movie. I myself just don’t see what was so amazing about it either. Honestly I’d rate it a 1/10 if the Merman wasn’t involved :D. I would have been PISSED if it was Merboy.

  • richbeast

    I totally understand those that are feeling the Scooby doo vibe from this film. I too had my expectations high when I went to see this movie. What I observed in the first half hour were annoying characters, over the top, contrite, references to our favorite films, and overall goofiness. I thought if felt cheap. But then I adjusted my expectations. I am so glad I did. I allowed myself to feel what the creators of this movie, must have felt when making it. I allowed myself to enjoy a fun horror movie, that not only makes fun of the rules of horror, but honors it as well. Sure these characters are annoying, but they are playing the classic, cliché, characters of a horror film, for the fun of it. Not so long ago, I read Seth Grahm-Green’s “How to survive a horror movie” which was funny as hell, and this film reminded me of it. While not as blatant as scream to list the rules, this movie plays off of all the ones us horror fans no so well. When I switched my expectations from being scarred out of my mind, to having fun, I enjoyed it. And Honestly this movie is now near the top of my Favorites. If your expectations are a serious, heavy horror movie, I would let that go right now. If you are in the mood for a funny splatter fest (especially later in the movie) that references, and makes fun of your favorite horror movies, albeit in a cheesy way, then this is the movie for you. I guess the point of my post is to say, with the right expectations this film will blow you away, but with the wrong ones, you will be sorely disappointed. In the end I loved it!!

  • Nothing333

    I will agree that this film is not at all scary. But then again I havent been scared at the movies since childhood. It’s kinda like a self aware horror fantasy flick.

    • Nothing333

      I don’t think the average film goer is going to get this movie. Not trying to be elistist but I think that Cabin demands that the viewer has a certain level of film literacy and that mainstream audiences just won’t have. Cabin is quite unlike Scream which gives away most of its “wink wink” references through heavy and obvious exposition. A lot of the references in Cabin are way more subtle. There are also many Whedon fan only references that are going to be lost on a lot of the audience. Still this is only talking about the mainstream success of the film (financial)..its definatley going to succeed with it’s intended audience.

      • jamesismy

        I totally agree, this movie is intended for horror fans, geeks, and film buffs, and it succeeds with flying colors (IMHO) with those groups.

  • Evil_Flip

    I f-ing love the sh-t out if this movie. Some moments we’re hilarious (like the speakerphone thing) and I think most of the horror stuff worked as well. Not to mention all the nods to the classics, when I get the dvd I’m definately going to freeze frame a lot of shots.

  • drfink09

    I still can’t believe how much I loved this movie. After seeing one trailer like 3 months ago I had written it off and thought it looked incredibly stupid. A friend of mine saw an advanced screening and said it was fantastic and then I saw all the positive reviews it was receiving, so I decided to give it a shot. I am so glad I did. By far the best horror film I have seen in years. The last half hour was amazing.
    I refuse to spoil this movie for people. I want everyone and anyone to go see it and have just as much fun as I did.

    And not to forget… “Last” by Nine Inch Nails during the credits? Hell yes.

  • IGETIGETBLOODY

    loved it! 3rd act was bat shit insane awesomeness!

  • nyrebellion

    This was the most overrated, predictable junk I’ve seen in a long time. They tried to save the pathetic mythos with Sigourney Weaver in the final act. I struggled to enjoy it and if this is considered to be the most important horror installment in 2012 then I want nothing to do with horror for the next 10 years. Wow….waste of money.

  • arachne13

    I really liked it and have seen it twice already.

    • nyrebellion

      Considering the fact that this site and other sites have hyped the living hell out of it with things like.

      1.Being Rated R
      2.Most blood ever to be used, only second to The Shining
      3.Unique and original puzzle that BLOWS your mind away from beginning to end.
      4.Paying homage to Carpenter & Wes Craven (more like Evil Dead & Friday The 13th teases)
      etc..etc..

      This only proves that when pretentious film fans demand for something so “unique” they get exactly that. A bad slice of pizza from the highly acclaimed neighborhood restaurant that everyone buzzes about. And of course they feast on it like zombies. Thanks but no thanks.

      • Nothing333

        Apparently only you’re right? Seriously though I respect that it wasn’t for you but clearly you don’t have to insult those who did enjoy it.

        • Aaron Emery

          I loved it. But CABIN IN THE WOODS was never intended to please general audiences (see CinemaScore), Goddard and Whedon did exactly what us horror fans long for, they made a movie just for us. Personally I feel the hype was fitting, it got me there opening night and for that I am grateful. All that said I can see a lot of people disliking it, but that doesn’t matter, a film with this amount of subtext is bound to go over the heads of some. Here’s to a second viewing!

  • demontool

    I agree with nyrebellion, this film was made for film critics and art school buffs. While the movie was not bad as a general film, it in no way was genre changing as a horror movie. The final act made up for the fact that most of the movie was not scary or gory, hell, the zombies from the walking dead looked more realistic than the ones here. I guess my main problem with this movie was that it wasn’t scary. I felt the same way about Drag me to hell, so if that is what you consider horror, then this movie is for you.

    • nyrebellion

      I agree, “Drag Me To Hell” was good but the first problem was the bright lighting. They should have made it darker with some fog and especially in the end with the dancing midget in the air…SMH. I know that’s supposed to be a nod to the dark humor that “Evil Dead” carried but even Evil Dead wasn’t always a comedy. That’s why the first one will always reign supreme. Anyway, as far as being part of a “general audience” AE was wrong. All I watch is horror and I’m sorry but I wasn’t trying to bash people here. I just felt I needed to address the incredible amount of misleading hype for this movie. It’s hard for me not to have a problem with it when the entire world is sort of telling you IT FLIPS THE HORROR GENRE UPSIDE-DOWN. Perhaps I’m blind or getting too old. Sorry if I’m not a fanboy for this one guys.

  • divisionbell

    First, Drag Me to Hell was garbage and Sam Raimi should be slapped for making that awful steaming pile of shit. Great opening and ending, everything else in between was just terrible. He can do so much better than that.

    Second, with all these comments and extreme love for this movie, I really hope it actually lives up to the hype. Going to see it this weekend and I’m really excited for it. But I’m afraid it can’t possibly live up to these reviews…

  • jamesismy

    I loved it, thought it was really creative. Seeing it again this weekend at a drive-in.

  • Mbed

    I saw Cabin the the Woods last night, and thought it was awesome! Even though the characters in the cabin necessarily play out stereotypes, the stoner character finally broke the mould. I found him to be the most likeable character.

    Moreover, it’s not often a film can incorporate plenty of winks and nods to other horror films while also being incredibly original.

    8/10