*SPOILER FREE* (Which is essential for this!)
The funny thing about current horror movies - or torture porn, as they're often referred to - is the sheer emptiness of them. You pay, you sit down, you watch 90 minutes of kids getting murdered as gruesomely as possible and then you leave. There's no meaning or investment needed, and when truly thought about is a very nihilistic view of morals. Which is where The Cabin in The Woods comes in, to set the records straight and turn the horror flick on its head; but not in the ways you might think...
Naturally, a bunch of teenagers visit a cabin and realise that all may not be what it seems, but in a sense far detached from your simple supernatural occurrences. Because in this Cabin in The Woods, lies something perhaps even darker than your average slasher tale, as these five are going to find out, at quite a cost.
|The affectionate nods and references to|
the classics are a welcome sight.
For us, anyway...
The deliberateness of this never feels forced, thanks to the handy work of Drew Goddard (Director/Co-Writer) and Joss Whedon (Writer), who instead throw the loop at a steady, well kept pace. Both sides of the narrative are balanced, allowing enough investment into each set of characters and worlds, despite one half of these being the morbidly optimistic villains and the other a group of familiar yet updated archetypes of teenagers.
And by updated, I mean believable. Because seriously, do you really think teenagers are that dumb to always split up? No, see these guys are smart, forward thinking kids who don't lack the common sense that apparently every other cabin-bound teen does (unless that becomes induced on them, of course...). Such maturity is then reflected with their relatively newbie cast, with Chris Hemsworth as probably the most recognisable due to his whole Thor gig. However, the true standout of these is Fran Kranz as the magnetically charming "Fool", Marty. From this side of the ride, Kranz steals the show with his stoner-yet-wisdom strewn persona, nailing all the damn-right delicious one-liners thrown his way (courtesy of Whedon, I've no doubt). This could well be his star-maker...
On the super-secret flip side, you've got an abundance of unexpected laughs. Again, the undeclared shape of The Cabin in The Woods still surprises with its multi-genre bending ingenuity. While the genuine scares remain ever scarce (sorry fear-fans, this isn't quite the scream fest you're looking for), you can expect plenty of humourous gags and set-ups that may as well have been in a straight-up comedy. Which in fact works better throughout to help detail the subtext lurking underneath the 95 minutes of pure entertainment.
The thing is with Cabin, you don't just walk out with a smile on your face; you're imparted with something overwhelming to ponder upon - How is watching people die fun? How did the genre get to the point where its main selling point was to watch human mutilation? So it takes these ideas and throws them back at the audience. Sure there are some gruesome deaths in here, but they've got weight to them: you've warmed to the character, you don't want to see them die, you feel their loss. In this sense, it isn't so much poking fun at those immoral conventions as it is ripping its stale heart out and presenting it for all to see, via a string of self-aware, mind-screwing metaness.
It may not be to everyone's taste, to be thrust upon with the truth that what you might have wanted from this film (torture porn) is ultimately not right. Though that's what makes it so good, the bluntness of this point, yet the subtlety of its delivery. Some may not even notice it, but still thoroughly love the film, whilst those who totally get it will totally get it AND thoroughly love the film.
So when The Cabin in The Woods reaches its converging third act of bizarre havoc and satisfying plot turn-arounds, and you've come to terms with the fact that this was not necessarily the film you paid for, I'd say you'll be pretty damn glad you were mislead into this soon-to-be classic genre-buster.
Change is good. But an entire overhaul of expectation? Now that's amazing.