*Beware. There May Be Spoilers*
The premise is the same old tired story. A group of beer and pot-fueled teens go off to the deep dark woods to stay at their friend’s cabin. That is where this same old tired story stops and the intriguing twists begin. This is Joss Whedon’s latest jump into the horror genre. Much like Whedon’s other ventures he changes the horror genre up just a bit and makes it his own. Sure, there are tons of shock cuts and make you jump type noises. Heck, even the opening title scene made me jump just a little. From that opening sequence though, we find out that this isn’t going to be any old murder in the woods film that we have seen time and time again. No, Mr. Whedon has a few tricks up his sleeve and he’s not afraid to use them.
Cabin in the Woods is a film that keeps you guessing until the actual end of the movie. Don’t worry though it ties up just about every loose end. Whedon gives you little tidbits of information throughout and never backtracks over the rules. This is something that usually infuriates me with horror movies. They will have set rules that need to be followed but will break them when it is convenient to kill someone off or if they run out of original ideas. Whedon pulls this off very well and keeps a realistic movie going throughout the experience. At least as realistic as a movie that has a guy getting gored by a certain mythical beast can be.
The acting is another breath of relief. Most horror movies have the one dimensional characters that are so atrocious to watch act that you can’t wait for the blood to spill if it will just shut them up. In here we have actual likable people that you kind of feel bad that they are going to die a horrible bloody death. It is hard to write this and not spoil the bits if the film that I really loved but the way that Whedon shows why the characters are playing their stereotypes is quite clever and I think he deserves a couple claps just for that.
The cast is pretty good as well. Chris Hemsworth as the Curt “the jock” didn’t strike me as odd but the bit of character depth we got from him was pretty nice. Of course this film was created back in 2009 so he wasn’t quite Thor yet. Just as we saw in Thor he can look the jock part but pull off a decent acting bit as well. The other characters were also pretty good on screen. My personal favorite is the weed toking smart guy named Marty and his one liners are what make the movie for me. Actually, throughout the movie are little quips and one liners that may as well be spoken by Whedon himself. They are what makes him an excellent writer and even better director. I can only hope that The Avengers will contain as much of this humor and he won’t be burdened with the weight of creating a “great comic movie” and will still be able to apply his usual touches that “Whedon Up” the movies.
As usual, Whedon also gives us some interesting female characters. The newly blonde Jules, played by Anna Hutchison, doesn’t do much to further the female role in horror films but she fills her role well. She sluts it up a bit and then is the first to die. Plain and simple. Kristen Connolly as Dana, much in Whedon’s tradition of having well-written “badass female” characters, gives us an unassuming main character that really helps carry the movie. She pulls off her role as the “virgin” character and give a very solid performance throughout.
I give Cabin in the Woods 4 out of 5 stars and will recommend it highly. With the caveat that you still must enjoy people getting sliced to bits and drug around by bear traps. If you can deal with that then you will have a great time. I only wish that more writers and directors in the horror genre would take a note from this great movie and give us a little intelligence and make us not have to turn our brains off to enjoy a slasher flick.