Cabin in the Woods, The (2012)

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The Cabin in the WoodsStarring Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Jesse Williams, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison

Directed by Drew Goddard

The Cabin in the Woods is a genre-defying horror comedy that celebrates the usual tropes instead of maligning them. Written by Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, the film sat on a shelf for over two years before it is finally being unleashed on unsuspecting audiences next month.

Because of the pedigree, the established milieu that Cabin is nestled upon is already on a shaky foundation: Whedon has a playful but respectful eye toward this type of story, and fans of “Buffy” and “Angel” should be expecting to see a different spin on a familiar premise. So here’s the rub. The basic setup was already revealed in the film’s first trailer. If you’re a tried and true horror fan, the title alone and the involvement of Goddard and Whedon should get you in the seat. But knowing that there is an added, let’s say, more scientific element thrown into the mix should raise eyebrows and increase interest in The Cabin in the Woods, which is exactly why the marketing of the film highlights certain aspects that make the story all the more compelling.

Forced into stereotypes unknowingly, Dana (Connolly) takes the role of “the virgin”, Jules (Hutchison) becomes “the whore”, Holden (Williams) becomes “the egghead”, and finally, Curt (Hemsworth) tackles “the jock”. Refreshingly, it’s “the stoner”, Marty (Kranz), who realizes things may not be what they seem.

When the laughs subside (momentarily of course) and the scares begin, The Cabin in the Woods transforms from a film teetering on parody into a cat and mouse game with real stakes. Remarkably, the environment engulfing our characters becomes even more believable as the story opens up to even more fantastic sequences. By the time the credits roll, there are so many layers to unravel, there’s very little chance that you’ll even remember that the trailers (and this review to an extent) let you in on the film’s little secret. Because then you’ll know the big secret.

Not to get you too excited, but there are certain scenes in The Cabin in the Woods that are so gloriously set up and executed that you’re likely to remember the reason why you fell in love with horror movies in the first place. It reinvigorates your childlike sense of wonder to see something so uproariously funny mixed with over-the-top action and spot-on references to the films we and the filmmakers cherish.

The Cabin in the Woods is this generation’s Scream, and although it won’t redefine or reinvigorate the genre like Craven’s savior of a film did, it accomplishes something greater. Who knows what the impact of Goddard’s first film will be, but the way it manages to avoid satire entirely – while still establishing a world that champions what we love about the genre – is downright miraculous. A universe is created that the characters inhabit where Goddard and Whedon are gods, and we are all damn lucky to be living in it, too.

The Cabin in the Woods hits theaters on April 13th. Go see it, and let’s make this thing a monster.

4 1/2 out of 5

Discuss The Cabin in the Woods in the comments section below!

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  • James Coker

    LifeMi you are probably the only Horror Fan who somehow HATES Insidious with a passion, while most horror fans Love Insidious LOL

    • LifeMi

      I hold that position proudly, James.

    • aliensharkboy

      It’s kind of a rip-off of Poltergeist though… I get why some like it, but to some level I find it over hyped and flat.

  • LifeMi

    TCITW is sheer brilliance; I can’t belive this sat on a shelf collecting dust while we were subjected to ANOES 2010 and Insidious. I loved every second of this film and fully intend to see it in theatres at least one more time.

  • Jerel Of The Dead

    I will be surprised if a better horror film comes to theaters this year.

  • nazo


    I really enjoyed the movie. I avoided all reviews/mentions of the movie until I saw it, which was definitely for the best. For me, it worked much better as a comedy than a horror movie, as many of the slasher elements (all of which were taken straight from Evil Dead 1&2), especially the zombie redneck family, felt rushed and undersold. Because of that, the pacing in the middle of the movie felt wonky. With the story they were telling, maybe that was unavoidable.

    Those complaints aside, I loved how the movie treated the characters, who were much better than the typical “slasher kids”, especially the “stoner”, and that’s not intended to be damning with faint praise. It’s one of the funniest movies, horror or otherwise, I’ve seen in the past few years. There is definitely some “Whedon speak”, and it feels like Kristen Connolly is doing a Felicia Day impression, but luckily it’s not as cutesy as I thought it might be. It reminded me of Slither with the ability to balance humor, characters, and gore. Even though I liked it, I realize the ending is a bit cheesy, but by that point you’re along for the ride and willing to accept crazy shit, or you’re not, and you’ll think it’s stupid. Overall, unless this is an amazing year for horror, I think Cabin in the Woods will be one of the year’s best.

    EDIT-Oh, and the Japanese ghost satire was awesome.

  • Cinemascribe

    I agree with a lot (but not all) of what I’ve seen written about Cabin in the Woods . The performances are all solid and the film is often quite brilliant, with some moments of sheer , diabolical genius at play (it’s actually worth the price of a ticket just to see one specific scene involving the use of a speaker phone) . I enjoyed how the structure of the film worked as sort of a cinematic equivalent to the Lament Configuration: Every time you solved part of the puzzle, something else popped up revealing even more layers. I think it worked best when it was poking fun at the conventions of the genre. I also -as many others have already expressed- had a blast with the manner in which this movie gleefully abandoned any sense of restraint in the last act and went off the rails insane bringing the gruesome.


    I had a few reservations.

    For one thing, I’d say Cabin in the Woods is being way over hyped. The press I’ve seen for this film is heralding it as a masterpiece and a game changer. It isn’t. It’s good, really good in fact ..but didn’t think I was great. At least ,not on that level of greatness we’d afford A Nightmare on Elm Street (the Craven film) , Evil Dead or Shaun of the Dead. To be perfectly honest., I thought last years Tucker and Dale Vs Evil was a better horror comedy that was even more clever in subverting overused genre tropes and taking them in unexpected directions.

    Another issue is that I just didn’t find it scary. There were a few decent jump scares, but for the most part I was entertained, but never terrified.

    The other problem I have is that I thought the film fell apart at the end. When the motivation behind the events taking place was revealed , I was underwhelmed. Instead of being impressed with something really unique, I thought it gave us a lukewarm concept that owes more than a passing debt to the work of Shirley Jackson and John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness and, by virtue of that, HP Lovecraft.

    Then there’s the final shot. I hated it. The closing image of this film was a cheesy, overwrought mess that was an insult to the level of ingenuity I’d seen demonstrated earlier in the film. Let me put it this way (and those who have seen it will understand what I’m getting at)..if I wanted to see Wrath of the Titans, I would have damned well bought a ticket to see Wrath of the Titans.

    To sum up: I thought Cabin in the Woods was a very entertaining – a times ingenious – film that also boasts one of the best placed and most appropriate cameos I’ve seen to date , but I don’t feel it’s a masterpiece or defining genre moment. I would easily recommend it- highly recommend it, actually – to genre fans , but I also advise anyone reading this who hasn’t yet seen the film to temper your expectations.

    I’d give it ***1/2 out of *****

    Edited to add: I learned shortly after posting this that not only was CitW topped by the Hunger Games and The Three Stooges at the box office on its opening day (I get the first title -that flick is on a major roll..but the Three Stooges movie? Really?) but it received a lukewarm CinemaScore audience rating of C. I don’t agree with this at all. The lowest I’d rate it using the letter scale would be a B+. I had reservations with the film on some fronts, but it’s still a damned fine piece of horror cinema.

    • Masked Slasher

      ^ THIS.

      You liked it more than I did, but almost all of my issues are with the sloppy and rushed execution of the final 15 minutes.

  • Gus Bjork

    Holy shit! I loved it. An R raed episode of Scooby Doo.

  • LSD Zombie

    The final act of the movie is one of the most gloriously insane things I’ve ever seen! Loved the hell out of it!

  • kiddcapone

    Luke warm at first, LOVED IT by the end.

  • nonserviam03

    I loved this movie an unnatural amount.

  • The Woman In Black

    I’ll be totally shocked if Cabin in the Woods doesn’t end up on everyone’s best of lists at the end of the year. It’s really that good!

  • James Coker