The year 2012 will by many movie fans be remembered as the year of Joss Whedon. He always had a dedicated fan-base but this year he exploded like an atom bomb on the mainstream stage with his smash hit “The Avengers”. Of course, it would have been a smash hit without Whedon, but probably not to the degree that it is, and probably not as enjoyable a film as it is. But still, “The Avengers” remains the lesser Whedon film of 2012.
The superior film I am talking about is a small horror film named “The Cabin in the Woods”, which Whedon produced and co-wrote with the film’s director, Drew Goddard. The film itself was finished in 2009, but because of its unusual design it was shelved by the puzzled studio which didn’t really know what to do with it. And this unusual design is what actually makes it such a unique ride.
The film follows two parallel stories. One is a familiar and formulaic horror storyline that is a big, fat homage to Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead”. Five teenagers in a cabin in the words are being tormented by zombies and picked off one by one. The other storyline follows two office workers that work at a strange facility. Their job is basically to supervise and control the events that unfold in the titular cabin, and to make sure that all the teenagers get killed off before all is said and done. During the film we slowly find out why they are doing what they’re doing, and unraveling this mystery is certainly a part of the fun.
Once these two story-lines start fully converging the film goes in to overdrive and provides some genuine thrills that at moments outshine most summer blockbusters, including “The Avengers”, before it comes to its somewhat disappointing ending.
After watching the film I couldn’t shake the feeling that the writers have missed a big opportunity with the ending that they have chosen for this film, but it is what it is. I don’t consider this to be a flaw of the film mind you, the ending works as it is, but it certainly strikes me as the lesser choice considering the film’s determined intent to deconstruct the horror genre in its narrative. Then again the final shot is another awesome “Evil Dead” reference, which kind of makes up for it. Saying more about it would surely mean saying too much, so I’ll leave it at that.
However, what could be considered a flaw is the fact that upon closer examination the whole premise starts falling apart pretty quickly, but who cares when there’s so much fun to be had with it?
As horror films go “The Cabin in the Woods” is most certainly one of the better films to come out in the genre in a long time. And although the scares are often very telegraphed they are still effective, but the already mentioned deconstruction of the genre is the main draw here, as are the horror clichés it exploits and the laughs that result from them. In the end this is what makes “The Cabin in the Woods” a breath of fresh air in the horror genre and one of the most entertaining films of the year.
Kristen Connolly - Dana
Chris Hemsworth - Curt
Fran Kranz - Marty
Richard Jenkins - Sitterson
Bradley Withford - Hadley