Plot 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...
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.
Verdict 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.
Enjoyed this a lot. Haven't quite fell in love with like others have, but it's hugely entertaining.
And were they Gremlins and the Scarecrows from Doctor Who we see at one point?
poiler: recrows were just meant to be killer scarecrows, I think they're listed as that on the board. No Gremlins either. However amongst the chaos at the end there was in fact a cameo by a Reaver from Serenity. So you had a person from each Joss Whedon tv show. rather enjoyed the film. S... More
Metacritic has its score as 72, they count the Empire score as being a 60. So I'm not sure how the three stars can be argued as not being level headed when it's fairly close to the average critical score. ... More
ay, I personally loved it, not really because it was brilliantly written or that I got emotionally invested, it's because it was a damn fun ride from start to finish. It's hilarious, it keeps throwing imaginative stuff on the screen right up until easily one of my favourite climaxes in cinema history. The ending alone makes it a classic, but everything beforehand is wonderfully imaginative and while it's hard to get invested in all the characters, the guy playing the stoner was ... More
Precisely, and this is why a dismissive 3 stars, which put me off seeing the film until I heard a slew of rave reviews, is misleadingly harsh and y punishes good, inventive filmmaking.o makes Empire an increasingly unreliable place to find level-headed reviews, which is a shame because I want to still like Empire.
The reviewer's opinion just doesn't correlate with yours. Quite simple, really. No punishment of good film-making, just two differing viewpoin... More
So which one was Fornicus, Lord of Bondage and Pain?
Highly enjoyable film, glad it finally got released.
ornicus was the Pinhead-type guy with the puzzle box.
Anyway, I personally loved it, not really because it was brilliantly written or that I got emotionally invested, it's because it was a damn fun ride from start to finish. It's hilarious, it keeps throwing imaginative stuff on the screen right up until easily one of my favourite climaxes in cinema... More
3 stars for this is ridiculous, it's bursting with creativity, imagination and fun. Films like this need to be praised, not fobbed off with a meh 3 stars. Equally stupidly, they gave Scream 4 2 stars (although they rightly upgraded it to 3 for the DVD review). Hollywood is awash with bland dreck and these inventive, well-crafted films are the antidote. How about celebrating them instead of taking a big dump on them and sending exactly the wrong message to the studios?
I understand the review from Empire as it is viewed as a horror movie. One that did indeed defy it's conventions and take them to a new level, but missed out on a chance to go beyond. As a horror, it can be given a 3 star rating.
However, in my opinion, this film was in it's essence a horror film, yes, but one that begins by giving itself away, which does not happen in horror movies as it removes completely the element of surprise and therefore cannot be seen as a horror - even if it was mar... More
It's great seeing so many different opinions on this film and TBH no one is wrong or right. The only thing I'd draw a line on is the Scream comparisons. Scream was tongue in cheek but it wasn't - as stated by the makers - making fun of the genre like 'oh isn't this so silly etc'. It's more of a fun love letter to the slasher genre. Cabin In The Woods does a similar thing but it's more broad. Personally I didn't think it did as much as Scream not was it as well put together. That just down to my... More
L: Snake 4Skin
Itz staggering how it seems the movie goerz have embraced this excuse for a "horror film".The makers of Buffy have just BUFFIED all over the horror film genre.This movie sucked.I adore horror and sci-fi,so I think that qualifies me as a "fan" who,2 quote a critic,wud "GET IT".There's nothing to get.Therez meta and therz STUPID,this falls into the latter category.Sum1 shud tell ole Josh to stop writing.The whole thing came across as cheap,tacky and meaningless,and the att... More
You wait ages for a half decent horror film to come out of Hollywood and then…………zoweeee!!!!!.
Best way to see this movie is to go in cold. Quite simply put – it’s one of the best gore flicks you’ll see all year. Mr. Whedon has crafted something which is sharp, witty, frightening with several half decent set pieces that are both visually impressive and in their own way quite breathtaking. All of the main characters are cut from the usual stock of ster... More
The film isn't really confused it just left some cinema goers who have spent a life time being made stupid by stupid movies a little confused. It's true there are many things in the movie that aren't fully explained, but guess what, it's for your imagination to fill in the gaps, or better yet why not suspend your disbelief! It doesn't become increasingly stupid it just diverges from the expected formular, you know to try and do something a bit interesting. Movies like this really need to be cham... More
RE: A Four Star Film Reviewed by a Third Rate Mag!
An astonishingly entertaining film that once the story (if one even exists) has to come to a conclusion it gradually turns into meaningless juvenile hyperactive tripe. This is the kind of movie where if Santa Cause would have appeared from the sky in the end to rescue our main characters, taking them to the moon where they receive lap-dances by horny reindeer -- it wouldn't have made any less sense, or be any less fullfilling.
The movie that it reminds me of the most (apart from... More
I've been an Empire reader since I was in school (I'm now 30!) and I'm really starting to lose faith in the mag. The reason? Take awful Brit-shit-flick The Cottage (2008) for example. How many stars? 3. It was shit - meant to be a comedy horror and it wasn't funny or remotely scary. We're talking bargain bin here.
Not a patch on the hugely enjoyable 'A Cabin in The Woods', also rated 3 stars. The difference? CITW is a hilarious and terrifying genre-busting film that will be enjoyed over and ... More
Those that have seen the film call it a deconstruction of the horror genre. While this is true, it is never done with the same cynicism which the postmodern Scream had. It doesn’t laugh at genre conventions but rather embraces them, while at the same time subverting them. The script, written by Goddard and Whedon, pays its respects to the horror genre, while at the same time giving audiences a fine mix of comedy and frights. There are some genuinely laugh out loud classic ... More
L: Dr Lenera
Empire were right. We actually have a mostly fun but confused film which is oaky for most of the first half then becomes increasingly stupid and doesn't know what its trying to say.
Is it funny? Often. Is it entertaining? Certainly. Is it scary? Not a jot. Does it work? Yes & no.
There are honourable intentions in TCITW, and clearly the likes of Goddard & Whedon are well versed in the horror clichés to which they have exploited to the max for humorous ... More
I enjoyed it but felt it strecthed it's main joke for too long (yes, there are guys controlling all this; can we move along a bit now?).
However, after the two remaining victims found the underground base and the gore started it found it's groove again.
3 and a half stars. ... More
Its good its very very good..
Best entertainment I have had iat the flix in ages..
Its tongur is placed firmly in cheek.. Empire have got the star rating wrong. defintaly a 4.. the only bum note was Ripley ( you know who I mean ) turning up at the end and doing the explaining bit...
This movie is a defo dvd to buy in future. Its now a must for any Halloween moviethon. for the next few years.. ... More