The Cabin In The Woods
Fatalism and desensitization. Two notions “The Cabin in the Woods” does not advertise. One would think its tagline, “You think you know the story,” would be a simple write-off for a sophisticated marketing campaign. But “Cabin” hits its mark; you don’t know the story.
Before the opening credits finish rolling, “Cabin” is already morphing – setting character archetypes up, while simultaneously breaking them.
There is the jock (Chris Hemsworth), who is actually smart, the dumb blonde (Anna Hutchison), who has merely dyed her hair, the stoner (Fran Kranz), offering insight instead of nonsense, and the would-be romantics, (Kristen Connolly and Jesse Williams), whose relationship doesn’t quite play out.
The film quickly establishes what it must, and then gets to its weekend getaway; but of course no weekend getaway is ever normal.
From a covert basement facility, the gang is being monitored. Two white-shirted older gentlemen, Sitterson and Hadley (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford), watch from screens and manipulate fates. Jenkins and Whitford are two of the best set pieces of the film, with their meta banter alluding to “Scream,” occurring throughout.
The two parallel settings, of the cabin and the white-shirts, begin to converge; zombies rise up and what at first plays out like a typical slash fest, goes batshit in the end.
Directed by Drew Goddard and written by Goddard and Joss Whedon, the two are aware of all of horror’s parameters and aware they must break them.
Accented by David Julyan’s fear-inspiring score, he has the audience convinced they know what’s next, but the cabin’s moderators toss wildcards our way.
At times those wildcards do seem a bit overwhelming, only played for fun’s sake, but once they all add up, they fit nicely together, gimmick-free.
Trying to figure out where the ride is going to take you is somewhat futile, as it’s not about that. It’s about enjoying the ride, and “Cabin” gives one.
The film’s hell-defying conclusion, where vats of blood spill, is jaw dropping. “Cabin” aims to match every genre staple, and it doesn’t fall too far from it.