Friday, April 13, 2012
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
No doubt you've heard of this film by now. It's impossible not to have. Word of its greatness has invaded every form of media and has even had moments spoiled by 'respected' critics and publications (but that is neither here nor there). Word of the film and the unending praise its received has heightened anticipation and subsequently expectations. As we know, expectations can be a real bitch. So is it all that and a bag of chips? You bet your ass it is. Its a perfect piece of filmmaking and a reminder of why we love this genre of film so much: its not afraid to reinvent itself or turn well worn tropes on their collective heads.
However, this is a film that cannot be reviewed without giving major parts of the story away. It has to be experienced for yourself with little to no idea about the particulars beforehand. But a little bit of a setup is needed. A group of college age friends pack up their stuff and head out to a, duh, cabin in the woods that's apparently owned by one of their cousins. You have the jock, his athletic but more brainiac friend, his slutty girlfriend, her sweet and virginal gal pal, and rounding out the group is their goofy stoner bud. Tried and true (and well worn) tropes of the genre are played early and often.
And that's all I'll say about the plot itself. The way these tropes are played to the hilt but still leave enough room for you to care about the characters and not easily discard them as your typical fodder is nothing short of remarkable. The film does have a meta-ness about it but it's not as self-aware or in your face in the way that Scream is which is another kudos to the filmmakers. People say that it's impossible to top the brilliance of Scream and to that I say 'Go watch The Cabin in the Woods.' The references are there for sure but subtle and brilliant.
Probably the most remarkable thing about the film is that writer Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard aren't that big into horror. I watched an interview with Whedon a couple weeks back at South by Southwest and he admitted as such. But he gets horror and what makes it work and what doesn't. Funny to think that a film that is essentially a love letter was written and directed by two people that aren't huge fans of the genre.
The Cabin in the Woods is a genius piece of filmmaking. Its funny, its gory, its smart, and the concept will fry your noodle. How it plays out and ultimately ends is just brilliant. The last twenty minutes of the film had me grinning from ear to ear. This is one that will be talked about for years to come.
Go see it. Go see it NOW.
Editor's Note: After reading this recent interview with Drew Goddard at Ain't It Cool News, it appears that Goddard and Whedon are big genre fans after all. Maybe I misheard Whedon during the interview (which very well could be, my hearing isn't what it used to be). Regardless, this is genre filmmaking at its very best.
Cortez the Killer