Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods

Five college students are getting away for the weekend and going to one of their relative’s cabin in the woods (stop me if you’ve heard this one). Horror/slasher cliches ensue until the five decide to make their way out…which of course can’t happen. I can’t tell you anymore of the plot without giving anything away but the movie takes a horrific Truman Show-esque turn.

I love horror movies. Not all horror movies, mind you. Not all are winners, I understand. In fact, when PG-13 Horror movies come to the theater, you can guarantee your local theater employee is in a hell of their own. Underage kids flock to the movies to get a taste of the violence. They yell at characters onscreen telling them how stupid they are, and how if they were in that position, they would do the exact opposite of what the character is doing, be it fight or flight. And every character has played their part in countless films. The funny one, the innocent one, the not-so-innocent one, blah blah blah. You know the drill. Movies like the Scream quadrilogy and the Friday the 13th series have made millions off of this formula. Making fun of the age-old story while still playing into the hands of the cliches.”Why am I watching this again?” I’ve asked myself on several occasions. But evidently, so have the screenwriters of The Cabin in the Woods, who not only recognize the constantly overused plots of horror films, but do a good job of tearing them apart.

I can’t tell you how often we’ve seen the “getaway” horror plot in movies. From last year’s Shark Night all the way back to the original Friday, Hollywood can’t get enough of killing kids obsessed with having a sex-filled, drug induced weekend. But to point out the mainstays aren’t enough anymore and Cabin hits the right spots. Chris Hemsworth plays the leader of the pack, with his muscular physique and jockish ways, you know his character well. But even with all the obvious stereotypes and even before we get to the men (and women) behind the curtain, the story is still somewhat intriguing from the chosen leads, none of them particularly well known aside from Thor himself. Upon doing some research of the film, this movie was actually made and done a couple years ago, but due to Hollywood’s excessive 3D obsession, was shelved in hopes of turning into just that. Eventually (and thankfully), that idea was scrapped and we finally have the movie onscreen for our viewing pleasure.

The amazing Richard Jenkins of Let Me In (2010) Step Brothers (2008), and Bradley Whitford of Billy Madison (1995) play a couple of the men behind the scenes and they play it well, fulfilling their omnipotent roles as 9-5 lackeys who couldn’t care who lives and who dies, as long as they get their job done. One would-be surprise, thanks to a certain Sci-Fi comedy last year, wasn’t really a surprise at all but it didn’t ruin anything either. I’m trying to be vague, if you can’t tell.

In our theater, we actually had a couple leave highly disgruntled, probably due to confusion of the story. This is somewhat understandable if a viewer thought they were going into your basic PG-13 Horror film. One couple said that it was good “…until it turned into some Sci-Fi, I don’t know what.” But keep in mind, this is the premise of the film; taking a story you know too well, and turning it inside out but that could be it’s one weakness to mainstream audiences. The cliches it followed mostly reminded me of Evil Dead 2 (1987), a film that’s been on my Top 5 favorite movies of all time list for a good decade now and I don’t see it being moved anytime soon. Horror junkies will love this, Horror writers will eat this up, and people generally knowledgeable of film and all the similarities many genres offer will definitely get it. You’ll want to watch this with friends who fit into any one of these three categories; otherwise you’ll be sitting with someone who as clueless as a blonde running through the woods in her underwear. As with the vague synopsis up there, I’m keeping this review short so as not give anything away, but I will say this: the climax of the film offers one of the most horrifying and simultaneously hilarious endings that I haven’t seen in a movie since… I don’t know when, but I’m not spoiling anything.

Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins, Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz

Rated R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity, Running time 1 hour and 45 mins, Horror/Comedy/Sci-fi

Plays like: Drag Me to Hell (2009), Evil Dead (1981)

Grade: B



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