Director: Drew Goddard
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchinson, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Bradley Whitford, Amy Acker and Richard Jenkins
Plot: Five kids go on a weekend break at a secluded Cabin in the Woods, unaware that their every move is being watched and manipulated.
I was instantly hooked by this film. I love anything written by Joss Whedon (especially when the movie is filled with Whedon’s recurring actors: Fran Kranz, Amy Acker…). Drew Goddard is also a great director, so it seemed like a match made in heaven. For the most part, I was not disappointed. This movie might take a few watches to fully understand, but when you do, you realise that this movie is a great piece of cinematic work.
The plot might dissuade some; if it wasn’t for Whedon, I would have skipped this movie altogether. It plays out like a teen horror, which is pretty much the worst sub-genre of scary films. Teen horrors are usually filled with the same archetypes: the annoying jock, the shallow high school queen and the geeky kids. This stereotypes are in here, but the script gets around to explaining this in due time. Also, these characters are hardly a nightmare to put up with. Sprinkled with Whedon’s usual sarcastic wit (especially Fran Kranz as the group stoner), the five teens instantly become likeable characters. We care when the monsters come crawling for them and when they die, we are unable to believe what we have just seen.
It is really hard to talk about the other elements of this movie without giving too much away, but the ‘other sequences’ (you know what I mean), are fantastically done, giving the audience a fresh injection of dark humour, when the grim horror gets too much. Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins make a fantastic comedy double and their duologues steal the show in my books. Even though, they are technically the bad guys (or are they? You decide), I found myself rooting for their characters to succeed. This was not some accidental thing either. Goddard and Whedon want us to emphasise with the film’s villains, because it opens up so many layers to the film.
And this film excels through its layers. It not only salvages itself from a teen horror plot, but we could argue that it saves every teen horror out there (well, almost). The twist of the film pretty much covers up nearly every bad decision made throughout horror movie history and even gives us several references to some of our old horror movie favourites. I have written an article for another site, Moonproject, on some of the potential post-modernist readings of the film, so if you want some further reading, check it out. However, it does contain spoilers:
At the very least, watch the ending. I have some friends, who struggled to get the sarcastic humour and switched it off before the first act was through. I pleaded for them to give it another chance, because at the very least, the last half an hour throws every rule out the window and just gives us a fun, thrilling ride (not to mention gory). You will laugh, squirm and definitely enjoy the climax of this film.
I have one problem: this film is not scary. Sure, it takes the horror genre to another level with a brilliant deeper reading. However, it fails as a horror in the simplest terms. Sure, there are a few jumps, but most of the deaths are comical, rather than scary. We are even forewarned of them, so everyone but the actual teenagers are aware of their impending doom. This could have been done on purpose, as there are deeper meanings with that idea, in itself, but at the end of the day, this is a horror film without the horror.
Final verdict: Despite a lack of horror, this film gives the genre a new leash of life. It can be watched for the deeper meaning or simple, honest fun.
From now on, I shall be writing reviews from the past, as well, as the new releases, so feel free to leave a comment with a suggestion for a film you would like me to review.
Lots of love, Luke ‘I Kissed a Girl and I Liked it’ Abbott