Movie Review: The Cabin in The Woods (2011)

Posted: October 14, 2012 in Drama
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Five college kids head to a cabin in the woods for some time off the grid.  Curt (Chris Hemsworth) is a jock, Jules (Anna Hutchison) is Curt’s girlfriend, and she’s as easy as an open book exam. Dana (Kristen Connelly) is coming off a bad breakup with a professor. Marty (Fran Kranz) is a stoner, and Holden (Jesse Williams) is also a jock, but new in town.  The five head off in an RV to Curt’s cousins secluded cabin in the woods.  Little do they know that the every move of the five people in the cabin is being monitored by a group of people in shirts and ties and pant suits, who are in some kind of control room in an undisclosed location.  One of these men is named Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and one is named Hadley (Bradley Whitford)  Dana reads a diary about a father who kills his family in the same family, and no sooner had Dana finished reading the diary entry, than the slaughtered family rise from their graves as zombies and start chasing down the young people with murder on their minds.  Do the people in business attire help the young adults in danger?  Why are these people monitoring these young people?

This is just a fun movie.  It’s not a horror movie.  It’s got all the architypes of a good horror flick, the jock, the stoner, the sexually active girl, the vulnerable girl, and the shy, bookish new guy in town.  But this movie has something that most horror movies don’t have, it’s tongue firmly in it’s cheek.  What makes this movie worth watching is not what’s going on inside the cabin, that’s horror movie making 101, what makes this movie interesting is the answer to why the college kids are being monitored, and for that you have to know that Joss Whedon produced and co-wrote this film.  Joss Whedon, for those who don’t know, is the person responsible for such shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Angel, and Firefly.  In this science fiction/horror milieu, Whedon likes to mythologize.  Buffy Summers, for example, went to to a fictional school in California that is located on top of the Hellmouth, a convergence of bad energy where evil beings congregate. Whedon uses the same kind of myth building here, albeit in abbreviated form to explain why the kids are being monitored and the results are just plain fun to watch.  The last 15-20 minutes are more gory and special effects laden than they need to be but alas it’s a big budget Hollywood flick and the money has to be spent on something.  The acting is great, the biggest star here is Hemswoth, and he seems to be having a lot more fun than he did playing Thor, which was an awful movie. And in a fun twist, the African American guy wasn’t killed first, an oft joked about trend in horror movies.  Kristen Connelly was very good as the sensitive Dana, her character had the most depth, Fran Kranz is pretty good as the stoner, he wasn’t just a one joke character, and Jesse Williams brings more to his jock character than usual musclehead.  It’s nice to see Bradley Whitford again after his stint on the West Wing, and Richard Jenkins has these small but memorable roles in many movies.  It is rated R for some gore and a little nudity, so keep the kids away.
The Cabin in The Woods. Should you see it?  I would.
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