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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 21.21%
Just Average: 18.18%
Pretty Crappy: 3.03%
Sucks: 0%

3 reviews, 15 user ratings

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Cabin in the Woods, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"A shot of fresh blood."
5 stars

"The Cabin in the Woods" destroys itself. You donít see very many movies do that, especially movies that open on 2,800 screens. It shows you the machinery inside itself, and then blows up the machinery.

Itís a horror movie about horror movies; it destroys horror movies, too. Itís a bit on the cold side, as a lot of clever films are. Itís a semester of horror tropes packed into 95 tight minutes, with sidebar snark about bureaucrats. Itís the work of two wise guys ó writer-director Drew Goddard and co-writer Joss Whedon ó sitting in the back of the classroom, snorting disdainfully about the cheap stuff horror movies scare us with but also admitting that the cheap stuff is fun. The Cabin in the Woods has too much on its agenda to be truly scary (though it has its moments), but itís the most fun Iíve had at a horror film since Trick ĎR Treat, which also toyed with horror clichťs. Itís a big gift bag handed to horror fans with a cheerful invitation to root around inside.

Cabin starts out mysteriously, at an antiseptic facility manned by blasť techs. In the first of the movieís really good jokes, we freeze-frame on a dull shot of two of the techs ó played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford as regular-guy mad scientists ó and the movieís title comes up, in huge, red, screen-filling letters. But whereís the cabin? Where are the woods? It seems designed to confuse the uninitiated. We get the cabin and the woods soon enough, as a quintet of college kids go off for a weekend. Goddard and Whedon sketch them in for us with quick, deft strokes ó the jock (Chris Hemsworth), the virgin (Kristen Connolly), the party girl (Anna Hutchison), the stoner (Fran Kranz), the brain (Jesse Williams). They donít know that theyíre in a horror film or that they represent very familiar horror-film types.

Thatís about all you should know going in; there are surprises beyond the obvious twist given away in the first five minutes. I can try to be oblique, though. Horror is chaos encroaching on order: when an idyllic summer afternoon drive becomes a nightmare, to quote the opening crawl from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or when the boogeyman comes, as in Halloween. In this movie, the horror is precise and controlled ó the horror is order. And eventually, when true chaos arrives to scatter that order, horror fans everywhere will break into a wicked grin, and perhaps laughter. Itís as though the collective ghosts of horror past focused their wrath on the man-children and idiots who have held horror hostage for years with boring, derivative stories, remakes, sequels: this is the Whedon film that should be called The Avengers. And maybe itís just me, but I thought David Julyanís score kept threatening to turn into Bachís ďToccata and Fugue in D Minor,Ē otherwise known as the ooh-spooky pipe-organ music from 1962ís Phantom of the Opera and a hundred others.

Aside from how it plays roughly and relentlessly with what we expect from a horror film, does Cabin work as, well, a horror film, or is it a meta-essay like Funny Games? Goddard and Whedon arenít into punishing the audience for what we came to see, what we want to see; that isnít their game. They would, however, like us to think about why we come to see and want to see certain things in a horror film ó why horror filmmakers work so hard to appease our base appetites for destruction. Their project goes deeper than a comparatively shallow exercise in deconstruction like the Scream franchise. That said, yes, the movie does work as an example of what itís examining; itís a bit like Alan Mooreís Watchmen that way, in that it looks under the hood while acknowledging that the rusty, oily engine still runs, otherwise why bother looking at it?

People still stupidly isolate themselves and die violently, and that still works our nerves the same old way.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=18555&reviewer=416
originally posted: 04/15/12 17:13:13
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2012 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/21/17 morris campbell fun & imaginative lots of monsters in the finale 4 stars
11/19/15 Bill Grimmel Very, very scary movie with humorous moments. Kristen Connolly was awesome. 5 stars
5/11/13 Marty Funny, gory, but I wish it was more scary. Unique, fun film. 4 stars
10/22/12 Stephanie I can't stop watching this movie. I love the wit! 5 stars
10/02/12 Katherine Very fun & original! 5 stars
9/23/12 mr.mike Flabby middle section is rescued by a slam-bang third act. 4 stars
9/16/12 action movie fan that,s right-it,s not scary and it gets more absurd as it goes on 2 stars
8/16/12 Langano Doesn't live up to the hype but better than your average hooror flick. 4 stars
5/08/12 Flipsider Very entertaining and original! It's only weakness is it's not scary. 4 stars
5/07/12 elbichosucio If you didn't like it, you're wrong. 5 stars
5/06/12 Adam Myles This movie was Phenomenal! 5 stars
4/19/12 Hannah Just pure wicked fun from start to finish! 5 stars
4/16/12 Mark T. very differernt ending was a little rushed but still worth a look 4 stars
4/16/12 Quigley The most original and entertaining horror film since "Scream." Don't miss it. 5 stars
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  13-Apr-2012 (R)
  DVD: 18-Sep-2012


  DVD: 18-Sep-2012

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