Written by Jacob Chimilar (@sweetlows)
Let me start by saying, I am not a big horror fan. Every once and a while I enjoy a good scary movie but the are few and far between. I'm much more inclined to watch a horror comedy just because the subject matter is often so ludicrous all you can really do is laugh, so why not build that into your plot? Sure there are some good stand outs like the original Halloween, Saw, Blair Witch Project, Psycho, all fun and scary in their own way but there is also a lot of terrible cookie cutter, by the numbers horror movies. That's where The Cabin in The Woods comes in. It's a movie written by “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” veterans, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, who also serves as director. Whedon said he found It was very difficult to keep his hands off directing because he enjoyed the material so much, and it shows. This is one of those great genre movies that has fun with the formula. It takes the standard premise of a bunch of teenagers going up for a vacation to a spooky cabin in the woods and just plays around with it. It's release was delayed several times after being filmed in 2009 for one reason or another but by the time The Avengers rolled around and Chris Hemsworth was now known for being Thor,they were able to market the movie properly and get people interested in it.
The movie has so much going for it that they even introduce there is something fishy going on right from the start showing two guys, played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford, having a relatively mundane conversation in a golf cart, touring around a facility complaining about putting child locks on the cabinets for a baby while also as an almost after thought discussing with a lady played by Amy Acker about making sure everything is set for their “event” coming up. It's a quiet scene with pretty standard comedy shop talk dialogue that is interrupted by a loud screech and the title flashing on screen. This isn't your every day horror movie, that's for sure. From there we switch over to the main characters of the film played by Kristen Connolly as Dana, Anna Hutchison as Jules, Fran Kranz as Marty, Jesse Williams as Holden and Chris Hemsworth as Curt. They play a group of typical college kids, in the sense that they actually study hard and have majors not the dumb, free wheeling ones you get in regular horror films. They do however plan a typical college break road trip up to Curt's cousin's cabin for the weekend to let off some steam. It's from here all the fun begins.
The Cabin in The Woods celebrates all the things that make horror fun. It gives reason to stupidity, gore and sexuality while at the same time taking it seriously enough to not go into the realm of parody. It shows you how the pieces work and pokes fun at the ridiculousness of it all, while still maintaining some very scary and very entertaining moments. It's a great movie to watch with people who are fans of horror movies and those who find them outlandish and goofy, as well as those who like them because they are outlandish and goofy. The jokes are genuinely funny, the action and tension is thrilling, and is the perfect mash up of horror and meta comedy without being “winking at the camera” meta. I don't want to give too much away because it is just so cool to see everything they put into this movie and all the twists and turns it takes. You manage to get two movies for the price of one, following the kids and the workers, both working seamlessly together to create a very entertaining experience that celebrates the best of the genre. "Scream" may have started the whole meta horror movie but The Cabin in The Woods takes it a step further and into such a loving place from the creators that you can't help but feel their passion for the creepy and hilarious.
The cast is also terrific. Everyone plays their parts so well, I honestly forget they are actors and just see them as the characters they are. The direction and cinematography are equally great. The stand out for me however has to be the writing. It's always a treat having people like Joss and Drew writing dialogue because they are just so good at it. Their talent for dark humor, interesting mythology and creativity are all on display in a script that only took them three days to write. It's that kind of talent that makes you grateful good writers like them are rewarded with bigger budget projects like Avengers and The Martian.
If you have yet to see The Cabin in The Woods, there is a lot to like. It's a great movie that if you need something to watch for a Halloween party, this would make for an excellent choice. It's funny, clever, and scary without being too scary or intentionally graphic. There are scenes that are pretty violent but it's shows it in a broader sense than some of the more overtly gory movies out there. I highly recommend you check this out if you haven't already, I'm sure you'll love it.