Cabin in the Woods starts out the way you might think it should. A group of college coeds are heading off to a remote cabin to enjoy a weekend of drugs, alcohol and sex. There is the jock (Chris Hemsworth), the slutty vixen (Anna Hutchinson), the stoner (Marty, played by Fran Kranz), the smart guy (Jesse Williams), and the virgin, Dana (Kristen Connolly).
|You know, your average group of twentysomethings that are actually probably thirtysomething|
|This is what you hang in the bathroom to subtly discourage guests|
|"I'd rank him above the angry molesting tree, but beneath the dismemberment goblins"|
In case the whole office-drones thing didn't clue you in, The Cabin in the Woods is not your typical horror movie. It is, however, extremely aware of typical horror movies. Specifically, horror movie tropes. I'll get more into that in a bit, but it should be pointed out to the curious that this is a love letter to the horror movie genre.
|If this image doesn't whet your appetite, you may want to try Saw XIII|
The acting in The Cabin in the Woods is pretty solid. The hottest actor in this cast is probably Chris Hemsworth, and it was nice to see him play an everyday sort of guy. It was odd that his character never seemed to let go of his football (Remember, he's the jock!), but Hemsworth played his part well and showed that he can deliver witty dialogue. He wasn't the main character, though. That responsibility falls on Kristen Connolly, who was simply likable. She didn't really stand out to me, but I never disliked her character and I thought the part was played well. The standout in the cast was Fran Kranz, and he turned in one of the best stoner performances in cinema history. He looks and talks kinda like Shaggy, but he had the best lines and delivery in the entire film.
|Although not having Hutchinson sing "Oh, Wolfie" was a missed opportunity|
I gave the script a lot of credit for how enjoyable the actors were in The Cabin in the Woods, and I don't think that can be overstated. I am a big fan of Joss Whedon's quip- and pop-culture-heavy dialogue, and Drew Goddard has a history of working on Whedon's TV shows; when you factor that into my love of horror movies, it's pretty obvious that I am the target audience for The Cabin in the Woods.
|I would rent the hell out of that cabin|
Okay, so I liked the acting and writing of The Cabin in the Woods. How about Drew Goddard's direction? He did almost everything right. The production values were excellent. This movie felt like the same amount of attention went into a detail that was on-screen for a split-second as went into the main characters.
|Meet Fornicus, Lord of Bondage and Pain, and star of maybe 3 seconds of this film|
|Cool monsters, yes. Scares, no.|
It felt like the entire focus was on being clever --- which was done quite well, admittedly --- which left the true scares no room to grow. Even when there was a kill that was well-done, the frequent cutting to the office drones commenting on the next trope robbed The Cabin in the Woods of any sense of suspense or drama. I actually liked the main characters of this movie. That never happens in horror flicks! If you are going to develop these characters, I don't see how you can choose not to make their fates dramatic.
|How does this scene not lead to horror gold?!?|
That's really the only negative feedback I have for The Cabin in the Woods. This isn't supposed to be as comedic as Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, but it also has fewer legitimate scares than Club Dread. These three films have a lot in common (good scripts and gore, for instance), but The Cabin in the Woods is waaay smarter and is technically better in almost every way, except slapstick humor. And yet the movie seems to outsmart itself at times. I would have loved to jump in my seat at any point instead of laughing very hard when Thor rides his motorcycle. For as much as I enjoy this movie --- and rest assured, I will be buying it and re-watching it many times --- I was left a little disappointed by the complete lack of horror. Maybe I won't mind that lack the next time I watch this, now that I know what's in store, but for now I can only say that it's a lot of fun to watch.