Saturday, 25 August 2012

Review : The Cabin in the Woods (2011)


Drew Goddard


Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth and Anna Hutchison

Five college buddies head out to a remote cabin for a weekend of beer, weed, sex and general grooviness, but soon after arriving, they find that, well, I'm not telling....

This will probably be a very short review, folks, and for good reason. If like myself, your a wise and experienced soul, you'll know to avoid all trailers, spoilers and amatuer reviews of this little ditty, (and horror in general, as it happens). Its a film that simply sings if you know nothing about it going in. Hell, it sings anyway, loudly and beautifully. The impact is far greater though, if your out of the loop entirely.

Its no secret by now that what seems like a template horror scenario is turned upside down, spun around, shot full with head-fuckery and let loose on the populace, but boy, does the film impress, hyped or not. This is what horror cinema is all about people. Its a perfect example of why the genre inspires so much love in its audience. Its creativity is boundless, its execution is perfect in every single way, and its just about the most fun I've ever had watching a horror movie in my life.
Now, I'm gonna sound like a lovestruck buffoon as I attempt to review the unreviewable, and I'm fine with that. When a film delights me as much as this did, I ain't got any scruples about giving it head. I can say without hesitation that for sheer exuberance, entertainment and dazzling originality, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS sits right up there with the recent masterpiece, TRICK 'R' TREAT. Like that film, it's release was delayed by a few years, and like that film, its an instant classic. And I do mean classic. Horror of this calibre comes along far too rarely.

Are there more artistic and perhaps more intelligent films out there? Yes. I recently reviewed THE CORRIDOR, which had a formidable brain, (and is also set in a cabin in the woods! Is this scenario now the breeding ground for truly inspired horror? Did I miss the memo!?), and recent works like THE TALL MAN, MARTYRS and INSIDE have all taken a more serious approach to elevating the genre, but this....! No other film in recent memory save the aforementioned Halloween classic can match it for sheer, balls to the wall, edge of your seat FUN. And while that film is a firm and beloved fave of fans the world over, (and as important to our favorite holiday as A CHRISTMAS CAROL is to the masses), THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is arguably even more impressive in its giddy abandon. This is horror cinema made by people who grew up with the genre, love the genre, and from the unbelievable amount of references, know the genre's history.....all of it.

That's not to say its an inaccessible movie to the everyday cinema-goer. All the references are there for the fans, but they are never intrusive. To the genre geek, they raise a smile without ever detracting from the experience of watching something wholly new, and for the mainstream audience....well, they get to enjoy themes, scenes and scares that have stood the test of time to become cinema history in and of themselves. All of us get to have our heads spun around by the films delirious third act. This is a 'universal pleasure' movie; all ages and all creeds. Its just that if you are a genre buff, its a damned heaven/hell sent gift, wrapped in skin and soaked in blood.

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is many things. One of which, is a razor-sharp dissection of the genre, and even its fans. Yet its awash with love, and while its often hilarious, its still a brilliantly effective thriller. Its real hard to explain any of the concepts without giving anything away, so bear with me here...

This is a film that looks at horror in depth. It studies the genres staples, rips them apart and rebuilds them in a way SCREAM could only dream of doing. On one level, we have the stereotypical kids getting high. On another level, we have, in theory, the directors and writers. understanding the genre, fucking with it, and re-inventing it. On yet another level still we have those who demand death and destruction, wherein carnage and originality battle it out with the unspoken need for the familiar. If demands aren't met, there is trouble. Yep, its us. The genre fans. You and me.

Horror inspires the most original and open minded film fans out there, even more so than the art crowd. We want to be dazzled. We want to be shown something we've never seen before. Taken to a place thats wholly alien and disorienting. Our demands are rarely met, but when they are, we get films like THE CABIN IN THE WOODS.

Intellect and theory aside, this is simply a masterful horror film. A love letter to the people that work in the world and the people that ensure they continue to do so. It is, frankly, a horror fans wet dream made incarnate.

I'm not going to give away any references, but I will say that perhaps the entire back-catalog of horrors history may well be nestled within the films black heart. In one scene, and you'll know it when you see it, there is more evil onscreen than in any movie ever made. Ever. its the single greatest and most startling scene I've ever come across in the genre, or in any genre. If it's possible to get so excited you impregnate yourself, then call me 'Daddy'.

The writing, by (Joss Whedon and Director Drew Goddard, no less) is top-calibre stuff. Its smart, realistic and funny as hell. This, of course, leads to great characters, (reader : you don't say!?)

Yes, the five kids are genre cliches, but they have to be for the tale to work. What Whedon and co have done within the confines of those strictures is just wonderful. The characters all feel very real and are very likable. You'll be rooting for these guys all the way. Not least the stoned character, who I must admit, is a man after my own paranoid, (and often baked) heart. I loved this guy. Without doubt my favourite character in a horror film since Ash in THE EVIL DEAD. Damn, was I on this guys team. And Fran Kranz played him to perfection. He appears to be a cartoon at first, then slowly your shown the human beneath the cliche. Its genius. The same goes with all the characters. The jock, the whore, the virgin, the nerd.....all are very different than they initially appear. Much like the movie itself.

The atmosphere, scares and brutality are all here in spades too. From the films intrigueing, hilarious first act, through its hyper-tense and vicious second act, and all the way into its insane, gory, incredible finale. Its perfect. The whole damn thing is perfect.

I'm gonna have to cut this short. I'd hate myself if I gave anything away about what is the best genre film in too many years to count. In case you havent guessed it already, I'm crazy about this thing. It feels like it was made just for me. Like TRICK 'R' TREAT before it, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS feels like my own, my precious, to treasure and enjoy whenever my heart desires. And thats exactly what great cinema does. It belongs to the people.

Where we go from here is anyones guess. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS has raised the bar so high I doubt anyone can see the damn thing from down here. A classic for the ages. A call to arms to get busy showing us devotees things we truly have never seen before. See it immediatly!

10 Evil Elevators out of 10!

1 comment:

  1. Still wished they used "Kevin", but I guess a killer unicorn is a big heads up for me!XD Love this movie to the death! merman!