The Cabin in the Woods
dir Drew Goddard
prd Joss Whedon
scr Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard
with Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Jesse Williams, Fran Kranz, Anna Hutchison, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Sigourney Weaver, Brian White, Amy Acker, Jodelle Ferland, Matt Drake
release US/UK 13.Apr.12
11/US Lionsgate 1h45
The Cabin in the Woods
Don't go up the stairs: Franz, Hemsworth and Hutchison

jenkins whitford weaver
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Cabin in the Woods The script for this horror romp is almost too inventive, cleverly combining clashing genres and playing hilariously with a range of cliches while thoroughly grossing out the audience. It's certainly a riot of fun to watch, even if it's not actually that scary.

Taking a break from her pre-med studies, Dana (Connolly) heads off to a mountain cabin with her flatmate Jules (Hutchison), their stoner pal Marty (Kranz) and Jules' muscle-jock boyfriend Curt (Hemsworth), who has invited his friend Holden (Williams) as a possible date for Dana. But they have no idea that two sardonic businessmen (Jenkins and Whitford) are managing an elaborate underground operation during which they are manipulating everything about the cabin. And it starts to become clear that, to save the world, all five young people must die in the correct order.

This is almost like watching two films: there's the Evil Dead-style gore-fest involving sexy young people unearthing absolute horror in an isolated cabin, and then there's the Men in Black-style sarcastic comedy about a secret parallel government operation dealing with something supernatural. Both elements reference their inspirations, gleefully subverting expectations while still following the respective formulae. And when the two strands merge, all hell breaks loose for a final act you never see coming.

The film's unpredictable structure is what makes it so entertaining, even if nothing particularly terrifying happens. All the way through, the filmmakers surprise us with moments of hysterical comedy and abject gruesomeness. They also keep the tone dry and jagged so we're always off balance, then slowly letting us in on the bigger picture. As Wes Craven's Scream forever changed the slasher genre by pointing out all of the cliches, this film undermines the creepy-cabin movie forever.

Along the way, the filmmakers manage to drop in a bit of political commentary between the outrageous humour and grisliness, which adds a whiff of subtext to the escalating mayhem. But it's the unexpected laughs that will make audiences love it, especially Kranz's cleverly surreal running commentary and the absurd banter between Jenkins and Whitford. The script is so smart that you'll want to see it again. And whatever you do, remember to stay away from the zombie arm.

cert 15 themes, language, strong violence 21.Mar.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall