Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen.
If you think you know this story, think again. From fan favorites Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard comes THE CABIN IN THE WOODS, a mind blowing horror film that turns the genre inside out.
The Cabin in the Woods is one of the more anticipated horror movies of the year. It starts out as most modern horror movies do, with a group of college students piling into an R.V. and taking off for a secluded cabin on a mountain, where they plan to drink, do drugs and have sex. The group includes the naive Dana (Kristen Connolly from Revolutionary Road), her less-inhibited friend Jules (Anna Hutchison from "Power Rangers Jungle Fury"), Jules' he-man boyfriend Curt (Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth), his sensitive buddy Holden (Jesse Williams from "Grey's Anatomy") and their stoner chum Marty (The Village's Fran Kranz). What starts out like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre takes a turn towards The Evil Dead when the kids reach the cabin. It doesn't take the five long to find the cabin's basement, full of weird and creepy artifacts. As they explore, Dana finds a journal that she reads aloud to the rest, including a passage in Latin that raises zombies from the yard out in front of the cabin. As the group fends off the zombies, they realize that the cabin is not what it seems. See, unknown to the kids, not only is the cabin overrun with zombies, but it is rigged with cameras and microphones, and their actions have been monitored by a bunker full of professionals since they arrived. So, the kids have to fight off zombies and deal with whoever is watching them.
That's about as much of a plot synopsis that can be given about The Cabin in the Woods without spoiling the film.
The Cabin in the Woods is not just a highly anticipated horror film, but it's also a very well kept secret. On the surface, it appears to be just another slasher-in-the-woods film, but initial looks are deceiving. The film is full of clever plot points and ingenious twists that make it full of fun. It was written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon and "Lost" co-producer Drew Goddard (who also directs), and it's packed with the supernatural mystery and beyond-belief craziness that audiences have come to know and love from them. The script is incredibly well-written, at times seeming like two movies molding into one; the horror film occurring in the cabin and the tongue-in-cheek comedy happening in the bunker. Although it keeps the audience guessing, the film never feels like the writers are just making stuff up on the fly; every element makes sense and falls together, even if it does so in an improbable way.
Given their track records, it's no surprise that Whedon and Goddard would do a little genre-bending with The Cabin in the Woods. What is surprising is how effective it is. The Cabin in the Woods is an obvious nod to films like The Evil Dead, but with an alternate view to the madness. Like The Evil Dead, The Cabin in the Woods is full of intentional humor, but not so much as to make the viewer feel like they're watching a comedy. There's enough blood, guts and zombies to remind audiences that this is a horror film.
If The Cabin in the Woods looks familiar, it's because it was shot by director of photography Peter Deming, who has been behind the camera for Scream 2, 3, and 4 as well as Evil Dead II. His experience brings a hip, slick horror look to The Cabin in the Woods. Deming's shooting style is very detail-oriented, giving the illusion of natural light when the scenes have, in fact, been meticulously lit. In the basement scene, for example, there are tons of detail in the artifacts and trinkets that are strewn about, and each and every item has to be seen for the scene to be effective. Deming makes sure that it all is. With The Cabin in the Woods, Whedon and Goddard are trying to change the face of horror; Deming and his cinematography remind the viewer that horror is what they're watching.
The Cabin in the Woods is not the scariest film that will see theaters this year, but that's okay; it's one of the more entertaining. While the film has an underlying creepiness about it, and the voyeuristic aspect of the camera crew watching the kids every move is unsettling. The film doesn't shock enough to bring about many real scares; even when all hell breaks loose, it's more visually impressive than frightening, with its cool mix of practical splatter and CG gore. This is not your father's horror movie -- this is Whedon and Goddard's version of it. Don't worry, horror fans, you may not scream out loud, but you'll still love it.
April 13, 2012