Cabin in the Woods, The (Blu-ray / DVD)

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The Cabin in the Woods (Blu-ray / DVD)Starring Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Sigourney Weaver

Directed by Drew Goddard

Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Drew Goddard’s directorial debut is not one that will soon be forgotten. The Cabin in the Woods is nothing short of a game-changer of a film. Not only did Goddard and co-writer Joss Whedon create an incredibly entertaining movie, to some degree, they’ve forced their fellow filmmakers to do the same. And as a horror fan, I’ve got a husband bulge about the entire thing.

Described by Goddard as a “love letter to horror cinema”, The Cabin in the Woods draws upon loads of horror clichés and somehow creates something entirely fresh from that which had become stale and repetitive. The movie entertains with humor, scares and great F/X throughout, walking the audience through a three-act play that climaxes with the ultimate life or death decision.

The flick is played out by a stereotypical teen horror cast: the whore (Anna Hutchinson), the athlete (Chris Hemsworth), the scholar (Jesse Williams), the fool (Fran Kranz) and the virgin (Kristen Connolly). However they find themselves being manipulated in an all-encompassing, Hunger Games-style fashion with every aspect of their person being tweaked and adjusted to fit the needs of those in control, making the whore more whorey, the jock more jockey and so on. All this being done for an outcome to “placate The Ancient Ones”, a reference to the fact that those in control must appease an unseen group of “giant evil gods” (which this reviewer has to assume is a reference about filmmakers trying to impress the movie viewing audiences) or risk the destruction of the entire world. Sounds pretty complex for a film that initially looked like another teen slasher, huh?

The cast is put together perfectly. Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford as the aloof, seen-it-all-before duo at the helm of the controls, Sitterson and Hadley, are uproariously perfect. They brilliantly play off each other with dialogue that at times feels like it was pulled from Pulp Fiction. And the kids in the Cabin who these puppetmasters are manipulating fill their roles wonderfully, especially Kranz as Marty, the fool. He delivers one hilarious line after another. And each of the teens have their spotlight moments…one particular make-out session with a moose comes immediately to mind.

The Cabin in the Woods is deliciously deceptive to the uninformed viewer. Anyone going into the flick with no idea about the plot will certainly be led around by Goddard and Whedon just as Sitterson and Hadley lead the teens to their fates. As the story comes together, as one layer is pulled away to reveal a next, even deeper step, the picture starts unfolding until Hell literally breaks loose… and then the real fun begins.

Although Whedon and Goddard consider The Cabin in the Woods a loving tribute to horror, it is very much a kick in the ass to the genre as well. Just the fact that the storyline of the film works so well proves how repetitious horror can sometimes be. The Cabin in the Woods proves that the “formula” referred to within the movie has simply been overdone and filmmakers should look to raise the bar and work more creatively. And if that should happen, if we begin to see the cliché five teens in the woods scenario begin to disappear, then we may be able to point to The Cabin in the Woods has having some responsibility for the improvement of the genre.

Additionally, those who have already embarked on this cinematic journey will certainly want to go out and grab a copy of the DVD or Blu-ray because the replay value of The Cabin in the Woods is nothing short of off the charts. If the devil is in the details, then this film is downright demonic. There is so much to discover in this flick… so much time and effort went into making everything amazingly perfect that you can go back and watch it multiple times, always finding something you may have missed on previous viewings. There is a lot here! Also watch for the foreshadowing elements you couldn’t have noticed on your first viewing. There’s plenty there, along with some great tributes to some of our favorite horror movies from the past.

If you have the equipment Blu-ray is easily the route to go here and the 1080p transfer is incredibly detailed, even in the movie’s intentionally dark and murky scenes. Skin tones are as natural as can be and the black levels are deliciously deep. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix will be giving your home theater set up a workout and a half as every thump thunders and scream shatters the air in the most delightful of ways. Everything is just spot on.

Both the Blu-ray and the DVD are has some great special features that will help you appreciate how much work went into this experience. Full features on both the practical F/X (entitled An Army of Nightmares featuring Heather L. Anderson of AFX Studio…the savvy viewer will recognize Mrs. Anderson as the former Heather Langenkamp who played Nancy in the Nightmare on Elm Street series) and the CGI F/X (entitled Primal Terrors) are included as well as a tour of the cabin and the woods by co-writer/producer Joss Whedon. For an additional laugh, check out Kranz’s Marty’s Secret Stash feature in which you get a tour of Marty, the hardcore stoner’s, favorite smoking paraphernalia. A full overview of the production can be seen in We Are Not Who We Are (yet another fine tribute to a fellow horror title!), a full look at everything that went into the film. By the time you’re done checking out all the special features, you’ll feel like you were part of the crew. In terms of Blu-ray exclusives there is a fun picture-in-picture bonus view mode called “It’s Not What You Think: The Cabin in the Woods” which brings bits of the special features into the main feature itself.

The Cabin in the Woods is spooky, gruesome, insanely intelligent and witty beyond belief. The story is incredibly unique and captivating and the characters are magnetic. It’s a wonderful breath of fresh air for the horror genre, the likes of which we have not seen in a long, long time. A true gem.

Special Features

  • Audio commentary with writer/director Drew Goddard and writer/producer Joss Whedon
  • “We Are Not Who We Are: Making The Cabin in the Woods” featurette
  • “The Secret Secret Stash” featurette
    o Marty’s Stash
    o Hi, my name is Joss and I’ll be your guide

  • Wonder-Con Q&A with Joss and Drew
  • “An Army of Nightmares: Make-Up & Animatronic Effects” featurette
  • “Primal Terror: Visual Effects” featurette
  • “It’s Not What You Think: The Cabin in the Woods” Bonus View Mode (Blu-ray Exclusive)


    4 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    5 out of 5

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

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    Scott Hallam

    We all go a little mad sometimes...haven't you?

    • aliensharkboy

      Don’t think I’ll ever understand/agree with a single complaint against this movie.

      Really a solid 5/5 from me – and worthy of 10th place on my favorite movies of all time list… and that’s not an easy spot to get considering my favorite films are things like Jaws, Evil Dead, Alien, The Thing, or An American Werewolf in London (I’m a classic lover).

      This movie had me excited like a dumb Twilight “fangirl” by the final 20 minutes, and I don’t expect any film will please me as much as this has for a very long time to come. Long live The Cabin in the Woods!

    • Tshoffie

      I cant believe i let myself blind buy this film based on all these positive reviews…this has got to be one of the most overhyped movies ive ever seen…complete epic fail on every level…while i do understand what they were trying to do it just simply didnt work … the jumping back and forth from the people at the cabin to the people behind the seens was very annoying and in alot of ways distracting.. I dont understand why they put Rated R for bloody violence and gore when the fact is pretty much all the deaths were either quick cutted so you dont really see anything or kept offscreen completely ive seen bloodier movies that werent horror then this movie. all and all i can see why they took so long to release this film…not the worst film ever made but it sure as hell isnt the movie everyone is praising either..

    • MagusMaleficus

      I’d give this movie a blowjob if I could.

    • Hakk Wylde

      I honestly Love how divided people are on this film. How fascinating!
      I feel CitW is as much social and political commentary as it is an exploitation and examination of a tired horror movie formula. My best guess is that the snarky dialogue has pulled attentions astray from the post 911 subtext (tracking…lockdown…loss of privacy) as well as the abandonment and sacrifice of youth themes that are just oozing from this thing (like the good Doctor mentioned). But then again, maybe it’s just testament to the fact that these are things that a lot of us refuse to see in real life as well. Hmmmm. }:)

    • Vanvance1

      There are aspects of this movie I love. The ambition alone makes it worth watching. Unfortunately for me it fails in numerous ways. The most obvious and depressing is the inability of the director and cast to create a single character who isn’t annoying as fuck.

      Gather together all the actors in this flick, suck out all their charisma and compare it to a hot dog, and you’ve got a weiner made completely out of assholes.

      Also, the ending instead of being dark/clever winds up feeling like the movie ran out of steam 10 minutes earlier in.

      I know this sounds negative, but it’s frustrating when a movie could have been a home run but falls short for some easily repairable reasons.

      3.5 knives from me.

    • streetloaf

      Whitford and Jenkins were definitely the best part of CitW. I might have even liked it if the movie was more about them. I was thinking about this too: Wouldn’t Jamie Lee Curtis be better in Sigourney Weaver’s role? I mean I love Sigourney, being in the Alien films and all but Jamie is kind of THE scream queen. If they’re stuntcasting anyway. But I realize she might not have been avaliable. As for Detention, I think I might just avoid that one. A buddy of mine watched it and said it gave him a migraine. Love the site though! Keep up the good work! I’m waiting for the next Dinner for Fiends!

      • nazo

        I liked CitW much more than you did, but I do think it worked much better as a comedy than a horror movie. Most of the horror elements were just lazy retreads of Evil Dead, and the pacing was so weird I never felt much tension. Still a very enjoyable watch for me, though.

    • streetloaf

      Hehe, I listened to the podcast so I knew at least a few of you would agree with me. I have no doubt that Mr. Goddard wanted to make a fun scare flick and his intentions were sincere, but somewhere down the line he lodged his head up his ass. I’m not in the habit of writing hateful paragraphs about movies, but this one just rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like it was insulting many of the films I love. I haven’t seen Detention but I hear it suffers from the same issues.

      • Foywonder

        Oh, no, my friend, if you think Cabin in the Woods has its head up its own ass you will come back on your hands and knees begging it for forgiveness after watching Detention.

        • Masked Slasher

          Oddly, I loved DETENTION.

          I think the sheer energy and oddness of it won me over. Plus, I think its hyperkinetic style was part of the point.

          I didn’t really hate CitW, it just never clicked with me. Loved the stuff with Whitford and Jenkins, though.

    • streetloaf

      This movie is so fucking pretentious. It’s the ultimate post-modern horror film that thinks it’s too good to be a horror film. It treats it’s subject matter with such snarky arrogance that it comes off as more of a hate letter to the genre. By trying so hard to avoid the pitfalls of cheesy horror, it becomes dumber and cheesier than any of the movies it makes fun of. You have all these crazy creatures/villains, but who do we get? The redneck zombies. How fresh. Not to mention the characters are annoying as shit, long before the behaviour altering chemicals are introduced. Especially that stoner guy were supposed to fall in love with. And what about the final reveal. That big CGI hand that pops out at the end? (sigh) CITW is just dumb. Fuck you drew goddard.

      • Masked Slasher

        For a second there, I thought I wrote this.

      • Foywonder

        If that’s what you think of Cabin in the Woods then just wait until you see Detention.

        • nazo

          Listen, I’ve done some dumb things in my life, but I don’t spit into the wind, I don’t tug on Superman’s cape, and I don’t watch movies that the Horror Chick only gives half a knife, especially without the assistance of a couple silhouetted robots.

    • Terminal

      Four knives for me easily. I really enjoyed this movie.