THE CABIN IN THE WOODS
Directed by: Drew Goddard
Written by: Drew Goddard, Joss Whedon
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams, Fran Kranz, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Amy Acker
It’s here. It’s finally, finally here. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS was filmed back in 2009 but MGM’s unfortunate bankruptcy caused quite a delay. A three year delay. But now after years of rumor, buzz and anticipation, audiences are finally able to see Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s twisted take on the horror genre.
We were a little split on the film. Some of us loved it (a lot) and some of us left the theater lukewarm. But even with our divided crew, one thing is for sure: there aren’t a lot of movies like THE CABIN IN THE WOODS. If you’re a horror fan, you owe it to yourself to go catch it this weekend.
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS has barely been released and already it’s become the most overrated film of 2012. Those calling this a ”masterpiece,” a “modern classic,” and touting it as the next coming of Christ really need to stop. Frankly, I was shocked I didn’t like this film more than I did. I adore all things Whedon, love smart storytelling, and especially dig audience experience films. While I enjoyed specific things about the film (such as the witty repartee of Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins, the beginning of a bonkers act 3, and its overall commentary about storytelling), I never felt scared, thrilled, or even amazed by what I was seeing. I couldn’t figure out what was at stake in either of these two-stories-in-one. And when things do finally gel together, it was incredibly unsatisfactory. Nothing carried any weight, so I could never truly connect with this piece. The film heavily borrows elements from a bunch of different cinematic sources that have been around for years (I can’t name them specifically lest I spoil things for you). Been there, seen that! But, hey. Maybe it’s just me. I do seem to be the odd (wo)man out when it comes to this movie. Horror enthusiasts will most likely love CABIN as it takes the genre’s tropes/ script constructs and augments them. However, for me, this was a cinematic compost pile. 2.5/5 - Courtney Howard
Goddard co-wrote THE CABIN IN THE WOODS with writer-director-producer Joss Whedon (THE AVENGERS, FIREFLY, ANGEL, BUFFY). Together they’ve crafted a masterful deconstruction, or to be more accurate given the over-abundance of blood and gore (and gore and blood), a masterful dismemberment of tropes associated with the horror genre. For every trope, they introduce a subversive tweak or twist, constantly undercutting audience expectations, in the process exposing these tropes as overly familiar, well-worn, and ultimately, unimaginative. There’s implicit criticism here of horror filmmakers unwilling to take risks, expanding the boundaries of the genre by introducing new elements, but also for heavily on minor or modest variations (e.g., settings, actors, kills typical of the slasher sub-genre) to push a seemingly endless stream of inferior product that debases, even possibly bankrupts the genre. That critique also extends to horror fans willing to unquestionably support the genre’s lesser, inferior efforts. (4.5/5) - Mel Valentin
Read Mel’s full review for Very Aware right here!
With countless other critics lauding CABIN IN THE WOODS, perhaps because of its pedigree, perhaps not, as some sort of beacon of blood-soaked hope, both for the horror genre and film at large, I was expecting nothing less than an earth-shattering cinematic experience.Yes, CABIN IN THE WOODS is inventive, surprising, funny, and an effective deconstruction of the tropes of the horror genre…well after an hour into the movie. Before that, CABIN IN THE WOODS that has the crumbs of what could be something better, but never lead me to that gingerbread house experience I was looking for.
What I got was a fairly standard horror film with better than average writing, as would be expected from people like Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, and acting, especially from Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, and Fran Kranz (who steals the film). However, the film’s plot stayed within the defined lines of what I expected from this kind of movie for too much of its running time and it wasn’t until it was too late that things finally got interesting. By then, I never felt invested enough in any of the characters to worry about what was happening to them, good or bad, and was perhaps too distracted by the incredibly fantastic shift that happens in the film’s final act to care.
CABIN IN THE WOODS felt more like I had watch a really good lost episode of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER rather than a movie that will forever change the landscape of modern cinema. Not gory enough for gorehounds used to work from Adam Green and Joe Lynch, and not quite as clever as hardcore Whedonites might want, CABIN IN THE WOODS is a fun film that’s even better with a crowd, but be wary of falling under its spell. (3/5) – Manny Lozano
There was a moment in THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (towards the third act, I won’t get into specifics) when I thought to myself “Please, please, please do what I think you might do.” And then – as if Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon heard my prayers – it all played out like I had hoped. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS does that, it takes your most basic (and sometimes outlandish) horror desires and nails them perfectly. But the film does more than just that, it also revels in and dissects an entire genre. And when I say dissect I really mean it. Things get bloody.
Fans of horror will study this film for years to come. It covers old ground but puts everything in a new light. It not only revitalizes concepts, it revitalizes your love of said concepts. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give the movie is that I left the theater wanting to not only rewatch THE CABIN IN THE WOODS but also FRIDAY THE 13TH, HALLOWEEN, THE RING, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and all the other horror classics I loved as a youth. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is supremely smart but it’s also a picture that celebrates the confines of a genre and explores them to their fullest potential. This will be an important film for many, many horror fanatics. (4/5) - Brandon Marcus
Apparently, I waited three years to be thoroughly disappointed by CABIN IN THE WOODS. Sure, the Whedon signature dialogue was there, and the concept was unique and imaginative, but earth shattering and genre altering it was not. If SCREAM had never existed then perhaps this film could claim that mantle, but a great number of horror movies either embrace their ludicrousness or go about telling their story with a wink and a nod. Zigs instead of zags were present on a few occasions, and the third act was a bit of enjoyable and uncontrolled lunacy with a nice surprise at the very end. Sadly though, the film had its share of holes, less than its share of scares, the CG effects were, well, probably only merely adequate in 2009 and underwhelming today, and though Fran Kranz, Bradley Whitford, and Richard Jenkins shined, the overall package felt underwhelming — a spectacular concept that that was better in theory than in execution. (2.5/5) -Jason Tabrys