MOVIE REVIEW: “The Cabin in the Woods” stars Kristen Connolly (The Happening , Revolutionary Road), Chris Hemsworth (Thor: Ragnarok, In the Heart of the Sea), Anna Hutchison (Robert the Bruce, Encounter), Fran Kranz (The Village, Training Day), Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy [TV series], The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2), Richard Jenkins (Step Brothers, The Shape of Water), Bradley Whitford (Get Out, The West Wing [TV series]), Brian White (Ambitions [TV series], Stomp the Yard), Amy Acker (Angel [TV series], Person of Interest [TV series]), and Tim DeZarn (Fight Club, Spider-Man ). It is directed by Drew Goddard (Bad Times at the El Royale, The Good Place [TV series]), who also wrote it with Joss Whedon (The Avengers , Buffy the Vampire Slayer ). A group of young adults take a getaway trip to a cabin in the woods, only to have themselves experience a terrifying first night akin to a horror film.
Before I take a dive into this review, I want to be upfront with you: if you have never heard of (or know the story of) “The Cabin in the Woods,” stop reading now and watch the film. It’ll be better to go in blind than read about it. Trust me, there’s no reviewing this without mentioning the first big twist.
You have been warned.
Goodness gracious, what is this movie and how have I not seen it until now? “The Cabin in the Woods” is the directorial debut of one Drew Goddard, who helmed my favorite film of 2018, “Bad Times at the El Royale.” He teamed up with Joss Whedon in this one, crafting a horror feature unlike any other. And when I say “unlike any other,” I seriously mean it.
The story is simple: five young adults head to a creepy cabin in the woods, only to get hunted by zombie inbreds. Only catch is… this real life horror show is being controlled by scientists and engineers in some secret base. It’s the idea of “what if someone were to create an actual horror scenario like the movies?” The subjects fit the boxes of your stereotypes (pretty blonde, jock, brainiac, stoner, and virgin) and it’s by their choices that they end up where they are. The results? Quite insane.
I laughed a lot in this. The humor far outweighs the scares because Goddard and Whedon ultimately wanted to parody the genre. There’s so many tropes that are excavated in this, making for a fun experience that I’m sure true horror fans would get a kick out of. The cast is good and have great chemistry, with some familiar faces taking up the screen (like Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins, and Bradley Whitfield). Though their performances can be hammed up, it fits the style the filmmakers were going for (and man do they go over-the-top).
Overall, the thing the take the most joy in with “Cabin in the Woods” is its concept. It’s unique and has enough layers to keep the mystery unfolding. Hardly does the ride ever feel dull because there’s a lot that jammed into the narrative. Also, it’s fairly unpredictable, which is a big plus. The fact that this has become a cult classic does not shock me in the slightest. Goddard and Whedon give the audience what they want, while at the same time serving two camps: the ones that like horror and the ones that don’t. There’s enough here to consider it a sci-fi because of the world created; if there wasn’t, the story would’ve certainly lost steam around the halfway point.
While the mechanics of this simulation can be a bit confusing (how were their personalities slowly shifting before they left for the cabin?), the meat and potatoes of this thrill ride work well. I don’t see it being for everyone (especially with its ending), but I can definitely see it impressing people if you want to have a casual viewing (even better if they’ve never heard of it). Suffice to say, if you have not seen “The Cabin in the Woods,” please do. It’s easy to parody the horror genre, but these guys added more depth to the narrative, making it not only something to laugh at, but also be intrigued by. FINAL SCORE: 87%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: