The Cabin in the Woods

12 Apr

Prior to the screening of The Cabin in the Woods that I attended, an announcement was made informing the audience that there were a number of surprises in the movie, and that since we were the first audience in the area to see the movie, we should be considerate of future audiences and allow them to experience these surprises as we were able to.  In that spirit, I have gone back over my review and redacted those portions which might give something away.  Here, then, is the resultant review.

The Cabin in the Woods is the new film co-written and produced by Joss Whedon, and co-written and directed by longtime Whedon collaborator Drew Goddard.  It is, on its face, a standard slasher movie, in which a group of college students attempt to have a relaxing weekend “away from it all”, but end up dying one by one in gruesome, violent deaths. The students’ weekend adventure is being monitored by a group of technicians in a high-tech bunker- or are they doing more than just watching?

Each of the students represents an archetype familiar to anyone who’s watched more than one slasher movie:  Curt, the Jock (Chris Hemsworth); his girlfriend Jules the Party Girl (Anna Hutchison); her roommate Dana (Kristen Connolly), the innocent who usually breaks out, kicks serious ass, and saves the day; Holden, the Scholar (Jesse Williams); and Marty, the smart, smart alecky stoner (Fran Kranz).  The control room crew is anchored by Sitterson and Hadley (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) and Lin (Amy Acker).

The twists start minutes into the movie, so any further discussion of the plot risks giving away things that are better discovered upon viewing.  Suffice it so say that The Cabin in the Woods both cleaves to the tropes of slasher movies and skewers them.  While many slasher movies try to include humor, Cabin artfully balances the laughs and the scares , often in the same scene.  Often in a matter of seconds.  The movie is, in fact, funnier than many so-called comedies.

The cast play their roles without surpassing them, as befits a movie like this.  Each of the college students instantly embodies the archetype he or she represents, and Jenkins and Whitford are the epitome of bored worker drones. Goddard embraces the violence without luxuriating in it; there is gore, but not as much as there could be, and it all feels very much like a 1990s slasher movie with a 2012 sensibility.

Just kidding.  Drag across the text above to read the whole, spoiler-free review.

The Cabin in the Woods gets a solid 8 Cheeseburgers

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