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Richard Jenkins
Bradley Whitford
Jesse Williams
Chris Hemsworth
Kristen Connolly
Anna Hutchison
Fran Kranz
Brian White.
Drew Goddard.
Joss Whedon
Drew Goddard.
Running Time
95 minutes

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The Cabin In The Woods
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Five college kids scoot off to a remote woodland cabin for a weekend break, where, after the discovery of a rum diary in the creepy basement and the unwise uttering of some ominous Latin scrawlings, things swiftly turn horrific. That’s what happens. As for why and how, well, that’s a whole other story...

The Cabin In The Woods
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At first glance, it's all very been there, gouged that, torn the tight-fitting T-shirt: a dusty, tree-hugged habitation distinctly reminiscent of the home of Evil Dead’s supernatural atrocities. A quintet of youngbloods who swiftly nestle into hoary archetypes: jock, joker, sensitive guy, good girl, slut. A threatening redneck gas-station clerk, happy to impolitely usher these unwitting “lambs” to “the killing floor” up that dark, snaking dirt-track. Yes, it’s all very Fisher-Price My First American Horror Movie.

Of course, there’s much more to it than that.

If you’ve seen the trailer (which you probably shouldn’t have), you’ll already know this. Even if you haven’t, the names attached should provide a whopping great clue: Joss Whedon, he behind Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, produces and co-writes. Drew Goddard, Whedon’s Buffy/Angel compadre as well as scripter on Alias, Lost and Cloverfield, directs and co-writes. Together and separately, Whedon and Goddard revel in toying with audience expectation, messing with archetypes, and taking genres, chewing them up (while impressively managing to avoid biting that tongue in their cheeks) then spitting them back out again in some glisteningly new, irreverent, fan-pleasing form. And this is precisely what they do with The Cabin In The Woods, a movie which, thanks to the inconvenient bankruptcy of MGM, arrives via a different studio and roughly 18 months late. Fortunately, that has done little to harm its freshness. Like his peer and friend-in-law J. J. Abrams, Whedon’s been sure to keep this baby shrinkwrapped.

Now: this is the part where the more sensitive-to-spoiler reader is best advised to move along. The Cabin In The Woods is, without doubt, a dish best served raw. That said, for the remaining 471 words, we’ll not be breaking the rule-of-thumb that describing anything revealed during a film’s first 20 minutes can’t be strictly termed spoilerific. All good? Let’s move on.

The fact that The Cabin In The Woods is indeed a full-blown meta-horror is suggested mere seconds after the credits start, when blood-red etchings of Old Testament nastiness suddenly slam-cut into a pleasant, colour-saturated landscape scene overlaid with the words, “Enjoy a fresh cup of coffee.” The string-stabs of the score give way to a pair of career-weary white-collar wonks (The West Wing’s Bradley Whitford and the ever-excellent Richard Jenkins) talking shop next to a caffeine dispenser in a spacious facility which looks not unlike one of Dr. Evil’s bases, or the kind of place you’d accidentally super-advance chimpanzee evolution. It’s not entirely clear what they’re talking about (except in hindsight), but the “key scenario” to which Jenkins pointedly refers obviously has something to do with the road trip that the aforementioned college kids (including Thor Himself, Chris Hemsworth) are about to take.

The Cabin In The Woods is less a tale with a WTF twist, more a slow-reveal OMG mystery as the worlds (please don’t take that word literally) of the kids and the wonks come together — or rather, as the barriers between them are revealed then removed. For the most part it’s a hoot, tailor-made for those out there who like to whoop at the kills rather than vicariously drench themselves in primal terror. Yet it does lack the strong characters and appealing sweetness of recent meta-horror Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil, Goddard and Whedon dehumanising their principals a little too efficiently. And it isn’t quite as sharp as Wes Craven’s mommy of the subgenre, Scream (or, for that matter, his New Nightmare). There is a pleasing zip to the script, which serves up a great speakerphone gag and a memorable scene in which a college girl makes out with a taxidermised wolf’s head. But the ultimate reveal isn’t as smart as it could have been, dragging the concept back into convention rather than boosting it up onto an entirely new level.

Even so, Goddard and Whedon reverse-engineer virtually every cliché with crowdpleasing glee, delivering an astonishingly nutso, gore-slappy final-act crescendo which barely leaves any staple of the supernatural horror flick unpoked. In one sense, you could say its closing gambit does for this genre what The Expendables did for muscleman/machine-gun action. Except The Expendables took itself just a bit seriously. The Cabin In The Woods, for better or for worse, most certainly does not.

Part Evil Dead, part The Truman Show, part Arthur Christmas... For horror hounds who love a larf, and those of us who always wondered exactly what that dry-ice stuff that rises out of the forest-floor moss is. A fun ride — but not quite a Scream.

Reviewed by Dan Jolin

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Cabin In The Woods
Empire Star Rating

"Oh, my God... I'm on a reality TV show."

Cool and scary, unexpectedly funny and endlessly surprising, The Cabin in the Woods is far more than just your average horror movie... a relentless, refreshing, blood-soaked cinematic treat that's worth getting excited about. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by movienut707 at 11:02, 24 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: 'you couldn't care less if they all died horrible deaths within the first five minutes'

BIG SPOILER One thing I really liked was probably down to an accident. Since the film was made a few years before being released, Chris Hemsworth did it before Thor, Avengers - maybe even before his brief turn in Star Trek, so he was basically unknown unless you're a Home and Away fan. But, by the time CITW was released, Hemsworth was obviously a huge star, and in a film generally without star names (Sigourney cameo aside), he naturally stood out. So, when his character dies maybe 40mins i... More

Posted by BelfastBoy at 17:55, 17 August 2013 | Report This Post

RE: 'you couldn't care less if they all died horrible deaths within the first five minutes'

L: bleedingcritic This film is a wasted opportunity, that's only appreciated by those that love cheap slasher comedies for the masses It's moving wallpaper, it goes through the eyes and exits straight out the back of your head ycock! No-one was, or should have been, trying to make a "realistic and believable" film here. This is pure black comedy and works fantastically. I'm afraid your committee interference theory is entirely off-beam as well: Whedon and Goddard locked themselves in a ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by wedgeski at 14:08, 16 August 2013 | Report This Post

'you couldn't care less if they all died horrible deaths within the first five minutes'

NOTE: Be warned before you read my review; I have included three descriptions of what's observed during the film that might spoil the experience for those who prefer no spoilers whatsoever, otherwise jump on in. There was a great deal of excitement when this film was released and I wanted to wait until the dust settled before I watched it. I was curious to see what the fuss was all about... How to make The Cabin in the take an influence from 'Westworld' (1973) plus three... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bleedingcritic at 12:11, 11 June 2013 | Report This Post

Torture Porn, REMIX!

How do you take a sub strata of horror films (it does help if this particular sub strata is overused and deader than a mouse in a pirahna tank), and convert it into a punchy, witty, and genuinely enjoyable film that transcends genres with every scene. I'm still not 100% on the formula, but I'd say it's been done. Serving up the style of gratuitous violence and horror movie 'rules' (as laid out by movies such as 'Scream'), subsequently flipping them on their heads, and incorporating fresh, unders... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 10:29, 15 February 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Great idea,WASTED

MILD SPOILERS     Watched this for the first time last night - great fun!Genuinely had me guessing right through - the actual purpose behind it all definitely hadn't clicked until the end, and the wife and I had been working through all the options!  Consistently funny and intriguing.  The two fellas in the operations room were great fun - interesting how you don't really feel you should like them but can't help it!   When I first saw the trailer I remember th... More

Posted by Super Hans at 12:23, 22 December 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Naff ending.

Literally just finished watching this. It was superb. Have managed to avoid trailers/reviews and although I knew it was a riff on the horror genre, knew nothing more than that, and this was all the better for it. The Empire review says this isn't quite a "Scream", however it pisses on Screams 2 to 4 from a very great height. ... More

Posted by UTB at 22:40, 21 December 2012 | Report This Post

Naff ending.

I honestly felt the ending was just naff, yet amazingly it just didn't take away from how much fun I had with the movie.   Go figure :-)  ... More

Posted by JohnChard at 09:28, 15 November 2012 | Report This Post

RE: The Cabin In The Woods

Clicking on this thread and then remembering Drooch's "punishing good film-making" lunacy made me laugh. We need him back on here. Anyways, good film with a playful attitude towards the horror genre. Ending gets a little bit silly, but its immensely entertaining and clever without ever tipping into smugness. It's been a decent year for Whedon flicks. ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 00:14, 03 October 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Close to a classic- in my opinion

Finally got round to seeing this and I must say its easily one of my favourite Horror films,especially of the last 10 years. The script is great,the acting is solid and the set-pieces are brilliantly introduced. But the less you know about the film the better. 5/5 ... More

Posted by OPEN YOUR EYES at 23:52, 02 October 2012 | Report This Post

Close to a classic- in my opinion

It has abit of everything (film genre) which is definitely my kind of film. Although, the acting are abit rusty at times (the script is to blame) but it's all forgivable since the crazy and twisted plot written by goddard and whedon pretty much covers that up. Not to be a spoiler but the ending is awesome, it leaves you wanting more. I'm going to write my second letter to Joss Whedon and ask for a sequel. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nimelles at 11:22, 27 September 2012 | Report This Post

The Cabin In The Woods

Its not as a funny, scary, or as smart as it thinks it is, but the premise is fun, the characters are like able, and the blood is plentiful. At least enough to carry this sometimes ludicrous mind-bender of a film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by norgizfox at 03:32, 22 September 2012 | Report This Post

Good but not great!

I was really looking forward to this as I'd heard great things and most people on here raved about it. It was pretty original but for me that doesn't necessarily make it good. It was really funny in places and some of the horror was pretty decent but for me this was only ok. Chris Helmsworth was decent but the other cast members were pretty annoying. The ending was pretty cool but this was a bit too short for me at and hour and a half. I'm so pleased someone else on this thread has mentioned My ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by guysalisbury at 13:17, 18 September 2012 | Report This Post

Good fun

Not scary, more silly with a touch or two of gore. Badly acted, well scripted silly and fun romp. Makes a nice change from the conventional slasher horrors. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danielthompson99 at 18:28, 02 September 2012 | Report This Post

RE: The most fun and entertaining film for years

Great idea, poor execution. It was heading in the right direction until the cabin met the bunker then it just got silly. And the end was crap. The director really missed a trick with Cabin in the Woods, it had the potential to be a cult classic. I had it at about 7/10 half way through and by the end it dropped down to 4/10. Pretty disappointing. ... More

Posted by Vidal at 09:55, 02 September 2012 | Report This Post

RE: The most fun and entertaining film for years

L: Keyser Sozzled  I enjoyed the subversion of the standard archetypes and though Jenkins and Whitford were fan-fucking-tastic. I would literally watch them in anything together again, sp; So this - simply brilliant casting. ... More

Posted by elab49 at 11:20, 30 August 2012 | Report This Post

RE: The Cabin In The Woods

I enjoyed it , but prefer Scream ... More

Posted by Dannybohy at 11:15, 30 August 2012 | Report This Post

RE: The most fun and entertaining film for years

I honestly don't know what I made of this. It feels at times quite disjointed. A little too outre for its own good, but was also laugh out loud funny at times and had fairly well rounded characters for a supposed genre offering. I enjoyed the subversion of the standard archetypes and though Jenkins and Whitford were fan-fucking-tastic. I would literally watch them in anything together again, I love Whedon's dialogue so for me that was the highpoint but I just can't help thinking that ... More

Posted by Keyser Sozzled at 20:42, 24 August 2012 | Report This Post

RE: The most fun and entertaining film for years

Only just got round to seeing this, loved it! Most fun I've had with a horror film in a long, ] time. The last 20 minutes are just beyond bonkers. Fantastic stuff! 4/5 ... More

Posted by paulyboy at 22:48, 23 August 2012 | Report This Post

RE: The most fun and entertaining film for years

This remains my favourite genre experience of the year so far - a month to go before I own this on Blu Ray and really dig into the background details. I want to write so much about it - but will wait until I get another viewing under my belt. ... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 23:37, 22 August 2012 | Report This Post

The most fun and entertaining film for years

Seriously, I've seen nothing like it. Especially towards the end, it twists and turns, never slowing down. It's hilarious, too - simply pure entertainment. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jackstarr at 13:37, 05 July 2012 | Report This Post


Back in 1996, horror legend Wes Craven redefined the genre with his postmodern slasher Scream, which at that time was a current statement about what’s both good and bad about the genre and in particular the teen slashers of the 1980s. Nowadays, a lot of today’s horror flicks consist of remakes (Let Me In), torture porn (Saw) and found-footage (Paranormal Activity), with the extra ingredient of 3D. So as a response to this current trend, despite being made in 2009 and now finally released, Clove... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 18:01, 12 June 2012 | Report This Post

One of the Best horrors of the decade! ... More

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Posted by jackcarlin18 at 13:29, 19 May 2012 | Report This Post

RE: all hail Whedon

It is ridiculous no doubt about that.... i gave up trying to take it seriously when the basement trap door flew open and they all carried on playing truth or dare as if it was nothing at all. enjoy the ride tho, plenty of unexpected frights, plenty of comedy moments if only the jock that went for the jump on the motorbike had crashed into the wall on the otherside and not the invisible barrier thing...that would have been alot funnier....if he'd just plain failed after the big build u... More

Posted by donethinking at 12:53, 13 May 2012 | Report This Post

RE: all hail Whedon

I really enjoyed this, even though it is easily one of the silliest films I've ever seen. The big set piece towards the end is worth the admission ticket alone, it's absolutely amazing and you could almost imagine the filmmakers thinking of that first and working everything else around it, just to make a set piece like it! I can't bring myself to complain about the ending too much, considering the fantasy elements that are in the film, but I do get frustrated at films that go crazy/un... More

Posted by jrewing1000 at 08:11, 01 May 2012 | Report This Post

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