When free spirit “Jules” (Anna “Go Girls” Hutchison) tells her best friend “Dana” (Kristen “Revolutionary Road” Connolly) what a good time they’ll be having at a cabin in the remote woods, you automatically know and are glad that she has no idea at all what awaits her or her friends, and neither does Jules’ jock boyfriend “Curt” (Chris “Thor” Hemsworth). The same is true of their intellectual friend with his notably piercing gaze, “Holden” (Jesse “Grey’s Anatomy” Williams) and their stoner friend “Marty” (Franz “The Village” Kranz) who seems to have a better grasp of reality, despite himself. Takes all kinds.
The Cabin in the Woods is about much more than any old cabin in the woods where unsuspecting, sex-having young adults find themselves headed for a very bloody end. The reason for this trip in their minds involves nothing more sophisticated than booz and weed, but on the other side of things, this ill-fated five has an important destiny they are supposed to fulfill. They must die for a grim and grueling purpose, one that extends far beyond those who seem to so callously want them dead.
And the film opens with those who want them dead casually chatting and making office jokes while placing bets on who bites it first while otherwise preparing to make sure everything at the cabin goes as planned. We won’t be able to relate to them until the very end of the movie, but everyone in this film has a reason to be hopelessly depressed.
|"Sitterson" (Richard Jenkins) and "Hadley" (Bradley Whitford), two |
of the brains behind the scenes.
And then we get big red letters that flash across the screen as though we are watching some humdrum Halloween movie. The film has this ability to quickly alternate between cheap and classy, between what we expect to see and what we couldn’t see coming. And as it is an example of a very extreme type of parody, this is for sure one of those films that will go over better with critics than audiences in general simply because it dares to call out the stupidity of the masses.
The Cabin in the Woods may not be your traditional carnival ride of carnage (though there is plenty of that, and sometimes too much), but it will indignantly and horrifyingly keep you interested. And in fact, its mainstay is about being just the opposite of what comes from the abandoned mines of bad ideas that we are getting today when we aren’t being bombarded with soulless remakes of earlier horror greats.
There is a celebrity appearance at the end, and if you’ve seen Paul (2011), you’ll know who it is. This would have had more affect if this were the first time we’d seen that, but The Cabin in the Woods is never really out of ideas or surprises, big or small. And while we keep waiting for Hemsworth to turn into Thor and trash these ghoulish attackers, we are given no such luxury, just a story that stays confined to the shallow-mindedness that made this wildcard of a movie possible in the first place.
Thank you, Goddard and Whedon, for taking back the horror trophy and setting it up proudly in the camp of those with brains.