These are the days we remember why we love Lionsgate. After collecting years of dust (due to MGM’s financial collapse), the mini-major is taking a pretty hefty risk with The Cabin in the Woods, Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard’s directorial debut. It only adds to the flavor that Joss Whedon (of “Buffy” fame) co-wrote the screenplay for the high-concept slasher that stars the newly minted Chris Hemsworth (Thor). The most difficult aspect of Cabin is how to sell the movie without giving anything away, I’m about to experience the same dilemma in writing this review…
While there is a pretty heavy turn of events, one of the film’s twists (if you can even call it that) is revealed in the opening scene. Cabin begins in an office atmosphere with co-workers Steve Hadley (Richard Jenkins) and Richard Sitterson (Bradley Whitford) comically riffing on a project they’re working on. It’s the mysterious setup that’ll engage the viewer until the big reveal. Simultaneously, the audience is introduced to the stereotypical “teens” that are about to embark on a journey to check out a cabin in the woods, recently acquired by one of their uncles. The two stories eventually collide into a bloodbath of epic proportions.
The strength of Cabin comes in the playful nature of the screenplay. Goddard and Whedon play everything tongue and cheek in a completely meta atmosphere. The two take loving jabs at the genre, making fun of the array of clichés horror fans are used to seeing, all without it coming off like a Scary Movie sequel. But the true magic happens in the full delivery of the promised “slasher movie to end all slasher movies.” It’s hard to elaborate without giving anything away, but it should be known that Cabin in the Woods will become an instant classic among genre fans. It’s immediate. To say it’s the Scream of the new decade is sort of a misnomer – seeing that people outside of horror may not “get the joke” – but for those on the inside, expect a heartfelt and blood-soaked homage to all of the films we’ve grown up watching.
Ultimately, Cabin is an extremely fun movie that’s beyond satisfying, especially for those expecting some sort of bloodbath. And even though there’s a pretty heavy amount of CGI, there’s an equal amount of unbelievable practical effects. Tonally, it all makes sense when you see it.
While Cabin in the Woods is a tough sell to the general public, we as horror fans can only pray it finds its footing. It’s one of those “gateway” movies that’ll open the world of horror to an entire new generation of film buffs. There’s something special about this slasher that hasn’t been felt since Warner Bros. released Trick ‘r Treat all those years back (and unlike Michael Dougherty‘s anthology, Cabin is blessed to have found a loving home.) While I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a masterpiece, it’s definitely the kind of project that will leave its mark, especially on younger viewers. And with Jason Voorhees nowhere to be seen (again), it’s the perfect movie to check out on Friday the 13th…
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