Film review: CABIN IN THE WOODS, from Built For Speed

Cabin in the Woods takes the Scream-style post-modern horror film satire to a bizarre and thrilling new level.

The film slyly begins as a stereotypical teen horror film with a group of college students (including Aussie Chris Hemsworth) heading to a creepy old cabin in an isolated forest hoping for a weekend of drugs and sex.  As any horror fan knows, once those teens get naked they’re dead meat.  The film seems to be heading down the Evil Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre path but there’s soon evidence that some strange corporate looking characters (Richard Jenkins and Brad Whitford) and their organisation may be linked to the gory slayings.  To give away much more would spoil an inventive, fun, if convoluted plot twist.

Suffice to say this film was co-written by Joss Whedon creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and directed by Cloverfield’s Drew Goddard.  Consequently, it’s full of clever piss-taking humour and monster worship; its second half should be heaven for fan-boy monster movie geeks.

The cast of young victims are deliberate parodies of teen slasher movie stereotypes: the Jock, (Hemsworth), the hot blonde (Anna Hutchinson), the nice guy (Jesse Williams), the cute, bookish girl (Kristen Connolly) and the comical stoner (Fran Kranz). Parody or not, this doesn’t excuse the cast occasionally acting more zombie-like than the monsters; at one point a hideous, bloodthirsty creature tries to smash in the cabin door and the cast respond as if the monster has just rung the doorbell.  Kranz, though, is a riot with his loopy but prescient conspiracy theories while the mocking corporate creeps Jenkins and Whitford are more sinister than any monster.

Cabin in the Woods is, for the most part a smart, funny thrill ride.  The only complaint (apart from some questionable acting) would be that some scenes are literally too dark which makes it hard to know what’s going on.

The film was actually made in 2009 but shelved when MGM had financial trouble.  It looked like it would never see the light of day but thankfully an aggressive social media campaign has seen it unleashed in our cinemas.

Rating: Four stars

Classification: MA 15+

Director: Drew Goddard

Released: 21st June 2012

Running time: 95 mins

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