When you look at the marketing for The Cabin in the Woods, it is clear that Drew Goddard, the director and Joss Whedon his co-writer have gone into the full ‘don’t tell anyone how it ends’ mode of PR. This does, however, seem to be somewhat of a smokescreen, and the pair seem intent on demolishing the archetypes that were born in the wake of this early horror popularisation, and have brought some spontaneous fun to the table.
They have achieved this spectacularly as from the kick off, The Cabin in the Woods can only be described as a blast. This is the film that all those who thought that horror had lost its spark have been waiting for. It is clever, self aware and has very specific opinions as to what caused the horror genre to fall into the cliched routine it has displayed of late.
As they explain to us what made horror into what it is today, Goddard and Whedon offer the audience the bucket full of thrills that it wants, and also argues the point that playing by the rules is not the way to go.
Five friends, who are played by Anna Hutchinson, Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams, Fran Kranz and Kristen Connolly, head out to a remote cabin to enjoy a weekend of fun. The cabin, invariably, isn’t what it seems, and events soon transpire within it that are being controlled by an external force that is seeking to manipulate our young partygoers towards a gruesome demise.
Aficionados will no doubt spot the similarity in the plot construction to the Cube films, and Cube Zero in particular, yet Goddard and Whedon take their film way beyond those boundaries as they playfully twist the basic elements of horror into some interesting new shapes. In this respect, the film is something of a metaphor, as it apes the very concept of creating a horror film, yet creates something that the audience will lap up.
The 5 characters that are caught up in the melee soon realise that they are being manipulated and try to do something about. Okay, this may sound terribly academic, but this film is certainly no dusty long abandoned tome. The script is light and quick and indulges our expectations of the characters before veering off in a whole new direction.
They know that, instinctively, the audience will presume that Hemsworth’s tall blond guy with all the muscles is the stereotypical horror film jock, and this plays out just long enough for us to be satisfied with our presumptions. Then the attention of audience is dragged away from this to the fact that these aren’t a group from the old horror by numbers films of the past, and are actually a very modern group with a different slant on things.
The Cabin in the Woods is clever, thought provoking, but is pure horror at its core, with gore splattering the screen, suitably grisly ends for the characters and a third act that takes us to an orgy of craziness that books it a spot on the all time list of great horror film climaxes.