The Cabin In The Woods
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A rambunctious group of five college friends steal away for a weekend of debauchery in an isolated country cabin, only to be attacked by horrific supernatural creatures in a night of endless terror and bloodshed. Sound familiar? Just wait. As the teens begin to exhibit standard horror movie behavior, a group of technicians in a control room are scrutinizing, and sometimes even controlling, every move the terrified kids make! With their efforts continually thwarted by the all powerful eye in the sky, do they have any chance of escape.
An affectionate, extremely knowing spoof that also manages to be a full-blooded, rip-snorting scary movie, this Joss Whedon production should have horror fans levitating off of their seats with bliss. Kicking off with the best title card of the year, the film follows a standard assortment of college kids (jock, stoner, cheerleader, bookish Final Girl, etc.) as they head to the creepy, cobwebby location of the title. Meanwhile, a pair of blasé white-collar drones (the wonderful Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) trudge through what appears to be just another day in the office. These plotlines are not altogether unrelated. Those averse to spoilers can be forgiven for applying earmuffs from here on out, but one of the beauties of Whedon and Drew Goddard's script is how it manages to continually up the ante, revealing the basics of its plot in the very first scene and then proceeding to run amuck within the boundaries it so gleefully establishes. (If you think you've got it figured out, just wait five minutes.) Although scoring major points for ambition, debuting director Goddard does occasionally struggle with the film's swings between laughs and screams, with a couple of promisingly scary scenes blunted by badly cued punch lines. In addition, as with many Whedon projects, some viewers may find this teetering on the edge of glibness, with every character sporting a full arsenal of almost too-clever wisecracks at the ready. Any such nitpicking, however, should be obliterated by Cabin's completely hellzapoppin' final act, which mashes-up seemingly every supernatural trope in existence into a coherent, outrageously plasma-soaked validation of the genre. In conclusion, if you have any interest in horror movies at all, you gotta see this. --Andrew Wright
• We Are Not Who We Are: Making the Cabin in the Woods
• The Secret Secret Stash:
• The Sequel in the Woods
• Marty's Stash
• Hi, My name is Joss and I'll be your guide
• Wonder-Con Q&A
• An Army of Nightmares: Make-Up & Animatronic Effects
• Primal Terror: Visual Effects
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Cabin is a delightfully witty post-modern take on the horror film that, unlike the Scream films, manages to maintain a self-aware sense of humor without crossing over into self parody. I fully credit Whedon for this feat, because the premise and structure come across as things that easily could have co-existed within his Buffy-verse.
The idea is that the often ridiculous conventions (or "rules" for Scream fans) of horror film plots exist for an entirely sensible reason. Specifically, because they are contrived by a lab full of scientists who arent't terribly concerned with character or plot consistency (let alone internal story logic). They are simply trying to create scenarios in which irrational fear will prime the unsuspecting (but only because they're being chemically manipulated) victims for a necessary ritual. The frequently hinted at scope of this plot device also provides a convenient meta-excuse for the vast number of slasher/horror cinematic stories out there and their inherently incestuous/repetitive nature.
A cast populated by many familiar faces for Whedon fans (and some others that will be instantly recognizable to anyone who enjoyed quality TV in the 90s) handles the script and the horrific absurdity of the plot perfectly. And the visual effects are definitely on the high-end of horror fare.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable rental but not one I'd recommend for die-hard horror or Whedon fans. No...those people should just buy it.