The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Five friends, one log cabin located deep in the woods and a cellar filled with creepy shit. Sound familiar? Oh, and there’s a scary old hillbilly who owns a petrol station. Yet the marketing suggests this isn’t what it seems. So what is the big secret of The Cabin in the Woods? Well I’m not telling you. Watch it instead. Seriously, this review will tell you two things: what’s good about it and what’s not.

What’s good? The acting, the plot, the dialogue and the finale, which is bat-shit mentally insane. Most fans of Joss Whedon will not be surprised to hear this, as he’s on producing and co-writing duty here, leaving the direction and co-scripting to Drew Goddard, writer of Cloverfield and a frequent collaborator on Whedon’s projects. The script and direction is sharply done and mostly pitch-perfect, packed with the expected Whedon witticisms and those incidental characters who are inexplicably given excellent one-liners. It’s a three-dimensional world (although not in 3D, thankfully) and oddly believable… although with some exceptions (more on that later).

There are cameos abound for Whedonites (or whatever Whedon fans are called), with actors plucked from Angel, Dollhouse, Buffy and even The Avengers (okay, Chris Hemsworth isn’t exactly a cameo here…).

But what’s it about?! I’m not saying. I can tell you it shoves the genre places it’s rarely gone before. Slapped with a 15 certificate in the UK, it also pushes these boundaries to the maximum, covering the screen in blood and gore. There is very little swearing and nudity on display here, but lots and lots of violence. And gleeful it is too. And funny. Unless you don’t like clowns. What?! I’m not saying anything.

There are, however, some major problems with The Cabin in the Woods. Unusually for Whedon, some of the main characters lack depth and aren’t fully realized. Chris Hemsworth’s Curt is especially lacking, becoming a jock-like jerk after being – apparently – a book nerd, kind-hearted fella. We’re not greatly convinced of this beforehand, so this change isn’t brilliantly flagged. This may be a deliberate decision from Whedon and Goddard, but it does leave you wanting. Oddly the other characters – NOT our main five – seem more well-rounded than our protagonists. Deliberate? Who knows. It just feels a little awkward.

And then there’s the finale. What a finale. It will split audiences to pieces – some will love it, some will fucking HATE it. I’m somewhere closer to the love it side, although there’s a moment during the finale where a big red button will cause many to mouth “really”? in utter bafflement. “Deus ex machina” fans will be very happy, though…

So that’s it. That’s all you’re getting. No major spoilers here on Gorepress. Apart from this; you’ll never look at taxidermy and unicorns the same way, ever again. “Say what?!” Yeah, it’s that sort of film.

Overall The Cabin in the Woods is a hugely entertaining, blood-soaked thrill-ride that will surprise, shock, amuse and delight. The ending may infuriate some people and the hype might kill off potential fans as it’ll never meet their expectations (no matter what they are). It’s not perfect, but it is immensely fun and utterly insane.

Don’t watch the trailer or seek out spoilers. Don’t ask me what the plot is. Just watch The Cabin in the Woods. It is bloody good fun.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

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