The Cabin in the Woods has had a difficult gestation period, completed in 2010 and only seeing the light of a gentle Spring morning now.
It’s rarely a good sign when a film is finished and then put aside without letting anyone see it, like hiding your children in the basement.
Writer Joss Whedon is well known in cult TV circles for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, but, at least in 2009, was not enough of a name on which to sell a movie (though his upcoming directing gig on The Avengers may change that). The reason for this delay, however, seemed to be that the studio realised they had something pretty good on their hands, and decided to convert it to 3D, to
gouge unfortunate film-goers for as much hard cash as they could get enhance the experience. Happily, that plan has been abandoned, and we get a two-dimensional effort at only mildly extortionate prices.
But enough background, the main question is whether after all that, is The Cabin in the Woods worth seeing? And the answer is an enthusiastic heck* yes.
If the trailer looked like it was giving away too much, don’t worry. We know from the beginning that a bunch of attractive young types are heading into a typical slasher movie situation, while being monitored by a team in a lab. What we don’t know is why, and I have no plans to give you any more information.
This is going to be a bit of a grandiose comparison, but bear with me: the way Don Quixote satirised the chivalric adventure novel to the point where that genre no longer needed to exist, The Cabin in the Woods destroys the slasher movie. Its tropes and its audience expectations are laid bare and sent up, and it’s absolutely hilarious.
For the horror aficionado, which I imagine makes up a lot of this site’s audience, seeing this film is mandatory. For everyone else, it’ll still probably be massively entertaining.
To confess, though, I’m coming from a place of strong pro-Whedon bias, and your feelings towards his prior work (and that of director Drew Goddard, who worked on a lot of Whedon’s TV shows) will likely be the same towards this. Its main characteristic is that it’s clever, more brain than heart. The comedy necessitates that the characters be stereotypes, and this being on purpose doesn’t change that you don’t really care what happens to them.
More than anything else, I’m deeply thankful to see a well-executed original thought break out of the endless sludge of remakes and sequels and reboots and reimaginings. The Cabin in the Woods may give you a familiar setting, but you’re not going to expect what it does with it.
* They frown on profanity here, but you get the idea.