The Cabin in the Woods | Film review
Joss Whedon pens a diabolically clever horror movie.
And you thought Katniss Everdeen had it rough. The Hunger Games are child’s play compared to what awaits five unlucky friends in The Cabin in the Woods, a fiendishly clever genre Rubik’s Cube that demonstrates, if nothing else, how much Fangoria fare benefits from the wicked wit of a real writer. Said scribe is Joss Whedon, the mastermind behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, here taking a page from fellow WB alum Kevin Williamson and constructing his own subversive scream machine. His setup is textbook Texas Chainsaw: Five college kids—each a scary-movie archetype, like the Jock (Thor’s Chris Hemsworth) and the Good Girl (Kristen Connolly)—set out on a weekend getaway to the mountains. Brushing off an ominous encounter with a local, they shack up in the titular woodland shelter, where some unholy terror waits to be unleashed.
So far, so familiar. An old pro at mixing laughs and jolts, Whedon tips his hat to legends like Clive Barker and George Romero, all the while providing a game cast with plenty of his trademark, machete-sharp verbiage. Why, though, does director Drew Goddard keep cutting away to office drones Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins, like a channel surfer switching between a lost West Wing episode and an Evil Dead marathon? It would be unfair to say more about Cabin’s twisty high concept, except to note how slyly it critiques everything from the puritanical politics of slasher cinema to the lazy Mad Lib screenwriting that dominates the genre. The film eventually sacrifices meta commentary in favor of full-blown mayhem, which would be a downer if the climax weren’t so anarchically entertaining. For horror buffs, hell on earth is pure heaven.