*NOTE* Here be spoilers!!! If you want the spoiler free review, click HERE for my theatrical review. I would highly recommend reading the spoiler free theatrical review if you haven’t seen this film yet . . .You have been warned . . .Off we go, and welcome to Bizzam Movie News’ Halloween Horror Celebration!
When five college friend retreat to a cabin in the woods for a weekend, they find they are being hunted by a group of pain loving redneck zombies unleashed by a shadowy group (government?) intent on their sacrifice.
The Cabin in the Woods is a superbly crafted horror film that turns all horror genre conventions on it’s ear. As a matter of fact, the film is almost more of a dark comedy than a horror film. Written by the brilliant Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Serenity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and directed by Goddard, his first feature film, The Cabin in the Woods is a grin-inducing tour de force that is intensely enjoyable. There is blood! There are zombies! There are boobies! There is a chic making out with a mounted wolf head! There is a shadowy (government?) agency determined to sacrifice five carefree college kids! There is a killer clown, but not from outer space! What more could anyone possibly want in a film? You want a merman? Are you sure? The cleanup is a nightmare . . .Ok, we have a merman! Oh yeah, it also has Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in it! (Is it just me, or has Chris Hemsworth been in everything this year? This, The Avengers, Snow White and the Huntsman, and the upcoming remake of Red Dawn. This dude is in more films than Jeremy Renner and Henry Rollins . . .I digress, back to the review.)
Five friends, all stereotypes, head to a cabin for a weekend of debauchery. You have the slutty chic ( Anna Hutchison), the ‘virgin’ who is not a virgin (Kristen Connolly), the fool (pot smoker)(Fran Kranz), the jock (Chris Hemsworth), and the braniac (Jesse Williams). These characters are actually the first sign something is different in this film. While they are all outwardly typical characters in a horror film, they are not as stereotypical in this film. The slutty chic is actually in a relationship with the jock who happens to be in college on a full academic scholarship. The ‘virgin’ just got out of a sexual relationship with one of the professors. The braniac sure as hell isn’t very smart, and the fool is the one who figures out that something weird is going on. Whedon and Goddard are masters at creating well rounded characters and they make all of them believable.
The characters are then attacked by pain loving redneck zombies, which they inadvertently summon. You would think these characters would be smart enough not to read a Latin passage from a dusty diary and you would be right. They should be, if their movements were not being instigated by the shadowy (government?) agency. You see, this agency is pumping chemicals into the cabin to get these characters to act like their stereotypes. Everything is also being monitored to make sure all goes according to plan. What is this master plan, you ask? Well, I’m going to tell you since this is *SPOILER FILLED*. If you don’t want to know, go away now. Really, right now. Seriously, last warning. And off we go.
The master plan is to sacrifice these characters to the Ancient Ones to keep them in their eternal slumber. If they are unleashed, the world ends. The Ancient Ones demand four sacrifices: the athlete, the slut, the fool, and the braniac. The virgin is the survivor girl who can either live or die. The other four must be sacrificed, though. And they must make their choices of their own free will. The agency just kind of . . .nudges . . .them along.
While the first half to three fourths of the film are a typical horror film, interspersed with the super funny agency bits, two of the survivors eventually make their way into the agency’s command center. I will no go into what happens in there, but it must be seen to be believed. It is simply amazing.
The performances from all of the actors are just spot on. In particular Richard Jenkins (Let Me In, Step Brothers) and Bradley Whitford (Young Guns II, A Perfect World). They are the agency personnel monitoring and following everything that is happening. They have clearly been doing this for a long while and have figured out how to have fun with it. They do their jobs, but also have a dialogue and chemistry together that makes you feel as though they have been working together for years.
With a smart story, a tried and true horror film convention, likable characters, and more monsters than you can possibly name in one viewing, The Cabin in the Woods is a triumph of genre storytelling. While it is never particularly terrifying, it will surprise you with it’s heart and humor. If you are a horror fan you will find an amazing amount to love. If you aren’t a horror fan, the humor will charm you. This is one of those very rare films that hits all the right notes. I don’t know how they could manage a sequel after the ending, but dammit, I want to see one. Do yourself a favor and see this or re-watch it. You will not be disappointed. I will go on record and say this is one of my favorite films of the year, hands down.
**** out of ****
- Bizzam!! Movie News Halloween Horror Celebration (bizzammovienews.com)