Reviewing “The Cabin in the Woods” without divulging the plot of the film feels like an impossible task. To speak to the movie’s plot would be to possibly deny potential viewers of one hell of an experience. That being said, “The Cabin in the Woods” is quite possibly the most entertaining movie of the year so far.
You’ve probably seen in the trailers, what little plot details can be safely revealed without spoiling the flick. Five college kids, all of whom fulfill their own cliché roles, head out to — you guessed it — a cabin in the woods for a weekend of boozing and sexing. But things soon go horribly wrong.
It’s a formula you’ve seen before, but much as “Scream” deconstructed the slasher genre in 1996, “Cabin” is a game-changer that takes what you know about the genre, spins it on its head and then says, “Here, have some more.”
One of the reasons this film shines is that all of the characters are quite likable. Yes, they do happen to fall into familiar roles for the genre, but the formulaic aspects of the characters account for only the thinnest layer of each person’s identity.
Many people will recognize Chris Hemsworth from his role in “Thor” last year and from the hype for the upcoming “Avengers” film. “Cabin” was actually shot two years ago, before either of Hemsworth’s action flicks. His recently acquired star power adds a sort of meta-layer to his character, which would not have been the case if this movie had hit the theaters prior to “Thor.”
The influence of writer and producer Joss Whedon, creator of such fanboy favorites as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and the often-idolized “Firefly,” can be felt throughout much of the film. A few choice dialogues simply scream Whedon, as does the film’s treatment of the female heroine.
None of this is meant to take away from the accomplishments of first-time director Drew Goddard. He shoots the film serviceably and allows the film to take its time picking up pace early on. When Goddard removes the training wheels, the project breaks open all at once to deliver a third act that will have audiences simultaneously gasping and cheering.
“Cabin” is being marketed as a straightforward horror film, and while the blood does spill (boy, does it spill), it’s difficult to classify it as a strictly genre film. You will be laughing just as much as you’ll be jumping, if not more. In fact, the viewers with whom I saw the film were laughing from start to finish. Laughter from the audience typically destroys a horror movie for me, but this film is meant to be an experience. Sharing it with a crowd who appreciates what they’re seeing makes it that much more special.
“The Cabin in the Woods” is well worth the price of admission. Prepare to be missing out on seriously great conversations if you opt not to see it.