Joss Whedon is on a roll, isn’t he? Hot on the heels of The Avengers comes another piece he’s written: The Cabin In The Woods, a typical horror show that…isn’t.
Five youths embark on a short vacation to the titular Cabin in the woods; a site unbeknownst to them as being under the control of an agency dedicated to engineering the cabin’s inhabitants to behave as decadently and cluelessly as is required for them to trigger their own demise at the hands of a set of monsters. Their deaths are an apparently necessary blood sacrifice to appease “the Ancient Ones”, who will otherwise unleash some kind of hell to the rest of us on earth.
In an interview with TotalFilm.com, Mr Whedon explains that this film is “a serious critique of what we love and what we don’t about horror movies”. With that in mind, it is joyous what he has done with the place. He’s right, you know – with many modern horror franchises holding an unspoken competition to outdo themselves with spectacular gore, there is almost nothing particularly graphic about The Cabin In The Woods; its effectiveness still very much intact. While a complete mockery of all the conventions we’ve come to expect from horror, the film cleverly, thrives on their very existence.
Brilliant as the idea is, this movie is not without its shortcomings (which should be expected really, given what’s in play). Too often in the story, we find ourselves unsure of its genre – is it a serious horror piece? A comedy? A really bad homage? A soap opera? An admission of defeat? The plot, insidious as it is, keeps shifting its tone, leaving me unable to fully grasp its intent and rather dissatisfied.
I noted, ultimately, CITW’s usefulness as a metaphor – on one level, its breakdown of horror stereotypes; on another, its questioning of what we really want or need as a horror audience; fans of marijuana will champion this on another; and on the same plane as the one where the “Ancient Ones” reside, any fan of The Vigilant Citizen website would have a field day drawing some conspiracy theories from this too.
Definitely worth a watch; the rest is up to you.
Director: Drew Goddard
Producer: Joss Whedon
Screenwriters: Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford