Josh Whedon and Drew Goddard twist horror into an entirely new shape.
The Cabin in the Woods is the enemy of the film critic. To describe almost anything that happens in it is to pin the butterfly in the wing. To spoiler reduces it to sand – so what’s left to say is how much you need to see this movie if you are interested in horror in any way, shape or form.
Let’s talk about Joss Whedon, who co-writes with Drew Goddard. The genre-bending, narrative tweaking pixie likes you to know he knows the rules of the game, in this case: the horror movie. Youth slasher to be precise. Remember what he did with Buffy and think about what you hope he will do with The Avengers this summer.
Here’s the basic set-up. Five college age friends decide to have a naughty, bong-fuelled weekend, pack up the winnebago and head for the remote building of the film’s title. Bad things happen. Very bad. The group are assembled by cliché. You have the jock, the promiscuous girl, the nerd, the responsible girl and the romantic nice guy who’s not just out for sex (well, he says). Except this is Joss Whedon we are talking about so the jock is actually a sociology major played by Chris ‘Thor’ Hemsworth.
And something entirely different is going on that you will have to see for yourself.
There is misfortune in them there woods and dark forces are marshalled by the co-writers to offer up a highly original and riotously bold thrill ride. Directed by Drew Goddard (who has a cult following for his writing on Buffy season seven), the humour is black hole dark and served up with a healthy disdain for the contemporary horror scene. And thankfully, this is a story that is hermetically sealed, so it’s hard to imagine it could ever be turned into a sequel. It is a stand-alone, devilish treat. Hard to compare to other movies – safely for preview – you could say it’s like the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of horror. Go see the movie and you’ll know what I’m getting at there.
If you have iron (man) like will power, do not even see a trailer for this movie, especially the second one.
I can reveal there is gore – some of it off screen, some of it very much on. Two excellent character actors appear in the cast: Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman from The West Wing). Enjoy them. The Cabin in the Woods is hilarious and chilling by turns. Does it play fair by its own rules all the way through? Maybe not, but enough of the run time feels as original as this genre has been in recent years. Queue up.
The Cabin in the Woods is released Friday 13th April