The Cabin In The Woods

The Cabin In The Woods

**

Reviewed by: Chris

The name of Joss Whedon tends to polarise feelings. For fans of Buffy and Angel, he can maybe do no wrong. The massive cult following engendered by his beleaguered (but brilliant) TV series, Firefly, may be more critical, some feeling that he 'sold out' when transferring his vision of an adult space western to the big screen (Serenity). Gone were the challenging themes: space men - and women - who have actually have healthy sex drives; a male-female team where the woman outranks the man; and a stellar courtesan who has more intelligence, taste and moral fibre than the rest of them put together. It posited a multicultural future but with class divisions of rich and poor. Firefly was brought to the screen after a long Internet campaign by fans. Shot on a relatively limited budget, it nevertheless won an Emmy for special effects.

Costing more than all the episodes of Firefly put together, Cabin In The Woods is a tongue-in-cheek monster mashup that has high production values and special effects that are worryingly memorable. Using the familiar horror scenario of high-school kids in a cabin in the woods, the film loses no time in getting sexy and then getting monster-filled. There are two 'revelations' - one of which is given away in the trailer, and the other of which is saved for the end. Cabin In The Woods is fast-paced and, if you are in the mood, reasonably entertaining.

Copy picture

But is it any good? Firstly, it would be an error to associate it with the horrors of Cloverfield, even if that script came from Drew Goddard, director of Cabin and, with Joss Whedon, its co-writer. The monsters are large and well done, but any psychological suspension of disbelief is undone fairly early on when we find out where they come from. Any similarity to the cabins of Evil Dead or Antichrist is gone before you can say Scream 3. The Scream series was entertaining and clever - at least for a while - as it caricatured all the previous movies of that ilk. Cabin In The Woods has a similar measure of lightheartedness with shocks, but the best satire is in the final denouement, probably unintentional in its silliness. Basically we are left with a pitch that might read: "Group of kids forced to suffer and be killed horribly by every type of monster." Its justification looks like a rather poor excuse, but if you enjoy the jolts, who cares?

Sexploitation in horror movies is almost a thing of thing of the past, but Cabin manages to bring it back to life within benighted American mores: girls can get sexy only if they are damned for it, and virgins will of course be rewarded. So if one of them 'makes out' with a stuffed wolf head, that's okay, as long as she gets 'punished.' Similar gags with two-way mirrors are designed to titillate the audience while allowing them to feel morally superior (I haven't quite worked out the full excuse for some gratuitous nudity later on, but it's of much the same ilk. Cabin In The Woods is the sort of horror movie you could take your date on if she has outgrown Buffy (but not by too much).

I can't really see why anyone would want to waste two hours of their life watching this - unless you want to multitask by eating lots of popcorn and having a giggle in the back row. The one thing that can be said in its favour though, is that the special effects, from zombies to killer robots, are so well done that you may indeed find them easier to conjure up from your dreams when you are trying to forget them.

Reviewed on: 13 Apr 2012
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The Cabin In The Woods packshot
A group of friends go to a cabin in the woods, where they get more than they expected.
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Director: Drew Goddard

Writer: Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard

Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian White, Amy Acker, Tim De Zarn, Tom Lenk, Dan Payne, Jodelle Ferland, Dan Shea, Maya Massar

Year: 2011

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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