Review of The Cabin in the Woods

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Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.
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How much of a surprise is “Cabin in the Woods”? Well even its fairly basic title masks a much more elaborate and smart horror film, one where writer-director Drew Goddard (writer another awesome horror film “Cloverfield) and his writing partner Joss Whedon (one of the great geek kings, both for creating “Buffy” and currently directing “The Avengers”) have tweaked and twisted the genre to do as they please.

It starts off predictably enough with college kids heading off to a relatives cabin for a weekend of fun. Smart-girl Dana (Kristen Connolly), her bland possible love-interest Holden (Jesse Williams), sex-pot friend Jules (Anne Hutchison), Jule’s jock boyfriend Curt (Chris Hemsworth), and the lovable pothead friend Marty (Fran Kranz) all pile into the RV and on the way up meet the creepy old man who warns them about the cabin. Fairly straight-forward horror so far, right? But why does there seem to be a force-field around the cabin? And who are these big brother scientists (played with both seriousness and harsh humor by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) who seem to be watching them, modifying the things around them, pushing them to make choices?

The desensitization toward violence and bloodlust of the scientists will remind you a lot of “The Hunger Games” but “Woods” is actually laying in wait to unleash a wild and crazy mash-up of horror clichés that pull the audience one way than another and, by God, I sat there with a smile on my face the whole time, waiting to see where Whedon and Goddard were willing to take me next. Plus it’s sexy, it establishes a terrifying mood, it’s eccentrically funny (Kranz is right there with Jenkins and Whitford in the laughs department), and the blood is here and then some. It has all the horror movie conventions, yet does something unique by subverting where you think the plot, the characters, and basically Whedon and Goddard are choosing to go with it.