Film Review: The Cabin in the Woods

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A Big Surprise

Warning: This review discusses the plot in depth and reveals the fate of a major character

The question for horror filmmakers for the last 16 years has been what do you do with the teen slasher movie after Scream? It probably didn’t occur to Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven that their self-aware take on this exhausted sub-genre would look to others like a full stop, but it did. Post-modernism then, has been done and you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that there’s not much left; you can’t return to the days of teen archetypes making brain-dead decisions and facing immortal adversaries. Even the smug cine-literate kids are dead now. It’s over.

But hang on, says Joss Whedon, maybe not. The Cabin in the Woods can genuinely claim to be a new spin on this dog-eared old story. It refashions the likes of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead, making it the mere outer shell of a Russian doll plot that turns those well-known contrivances into back-end machinations from hidden characters, and introduces a motive so incredible that it almost kills the picture. This may be the first movie in a genre often known for its meathead simplicity, nearly undone by the scale of its ambition.

From the outset it’s clear this is no conventional butcher’s shop window. We get the foreboding score, ancient hieroglyphics, with images of human sacrifice, and we know where we are, but then, suddenly, there’s a sharp cut to a office vending machine and a seemingly unending conversation between two innocuous looking company men. It looks like a scene from a different movie has been spliced into the reel by mistake but this is just the beginning of director Drew Goddard’s Outer Limits-style advance on our rock bottom expectations. Indeed by the time we’re looking through a girl’s window, watching her mooch around in her underwear, we’re forewarned that the rulebook has been torn up. For the first time since Drew Barrymore’s nuisance phone call, all bets are off.

Pages: 1 2 3

Directed by: Drew Goddard

Country: US

Year: 2012

Running Time: 95 mins

Certificate: 15 for impenetrable logic.

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