The Cabin In The Woods - DVD Review

'a glorious melange of clever riffs on Horror and glorious celebrations of its best bits. It pokes fun whilst occasionally scaring, undermines whilst saying something clever.'

If someone mentions to you that a film has a twist it can be a problem. You know the scenario. You know there's something coming and you're on the lookout. Is that old lady really an old lady? Is that character really alive or is he dead? Is the wolf on the wall really a wolf? The last one might not be so applicable.

The way The Cabin In The Woods deals with this problem is commendable. We know there's something up with the cabin our band of teenagers are in because the film spends an awful lot of time, from the very first scene onwards, following Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford, who aren't in the cabin but are actually in front of lots of computers, dials and switches. We know there's something up because, in every other cabin film, Jenkins and Whitford's characters wouldn't be there. It's a clever way of signalling the twist without making it distracting and without signposting the reveal.

This leaves The Cabin In The Woods to set about its main aim. Drew Goddard's film is a clever subversion of the Horror genre, in the same vein as Scream. It takes everything that's good about cabin films (clearly The Evil Dead is a heavy influence) and everything that's bad about Slasher films and mashes them up into a glorious melange of clever riffs on Horror and glorious celebrations of its best bits. It pokes fun whilst occasionally scaring, undermines whilst saying something clever. The opening scene belies the film's cleverness. Curt (Chris Hemsworth) looks like a jock but spouts philosophy, Dana (Kristen Connolly) seems clever but walks about in her underwear. Why? We're in a Slasher, silly!

As Goddard and co-writer Joss Whedon get deeper into messing around with genre, things get more overt. The duo keep up. The film doesn't reduce itself to being overly self-referential (see: Scream 4) but nor does it ignore that its main characters are of the age to know about Horror films. It's a balancing act which Craven's latest got horribly wrong. Goddard and Whedon are here to show how its done.

Like pretty much any film which builds up spectacularly to a big reveal and finale, The Cabin In The Woods doesn't quite have the shocking third-act entrance to live up to its promise. The end is something of a damp squib but it at least does have the grace to make sense and the diversion into gore is a pretty pleasant release from what was on offer previously. Serious, intelligent and fun, in one complete Horror-geek friendly package.



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