Review: The Cabin in the Woods

Getting put on the shelf for a couple of year due to the MGM bankruptcy, The Cabin in the Woods finally got released last weekend.  Was it worth the wait or should it have stayed on the shelf? (I need to mention before we get into the review that it’s pretty much impossible to talk about without spoilers so don’t read on if you want to avoid them).

The Cabin in the Woods, written and directed by Drew Goddard and co-written by Joss Whedon,  follows two separate storylines.  One follows a group of five friends, led by Chris Hemsworth, as they set off for the remote cabin of Hemsworth’s cousin for a booze filled weekend of getting away.  The kids quickly realize something strange is going on with the cabin when they find one way mirrors, creepy pictures on the walls and a cellar full of weird and creepy objects.  The other storyline, and the one they kept out of the trailers, follows Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford as the guys in control of the cabin, working for an organization that is in charge of performing blood sacrifices to appease the ancient gods under both the cabin and the facility.  Their interactions and manipulation of the kids is easily the highlight of the movie and the source of most of the movie’s comedy.

The Whitford/Jenkins plot calls to mind classic workplace comedies like Office Space as they go about their work day, that just happens to be murdering teens with horror monsters and interacting with their co-workers, which includes all the departments you would think of for a major corporation like Accounting and Maintenance but also Demolitions, Security and Chemicals.  There’s tons of great jokes and sequences in this part of the movie like the entire organization betting on what monster the kids are going to unwittingly unleash, with choices on their betting board including “Angry Molesting Tree” and “Sexy Witches” and the guys mocking their creepy gatekeepr Mordacai by leaving him on speakerphone when he expressly tells them to take him off it.

Back in the kids plot, it follows the basic slasher movie plot of the kids getting killed one by one but the cleverness comes in from the fact that the organization below the cabin is manipulating the kids into becoming dumb horror movie characters.  At the outset, all the characters are incredibly smart and capable, for instance Chris Hemsworth is a Sociology major on full academic scholarship to the college he’s attending.  Through a combination of chemicals and enviromental controls, they turn him into the standard dumb, alpha male jock and his girlfriend, Jules, into a slutty, dumb blonde through pheremones and spiking her hair dye with chemicals that travel through the hair follicles into her brain and reduce her cognitive ablities, literally transforming her into a dumb blonde.  The best character of the kids portion of the movie is easily stoner Marty, who becomes the unlikely hero after most of the gang is dispatched by the backwoods zombie family the kids unleash by reading an old diary.  The one criticism I would level against this part of the movie is that the kills are not as clever as the setup to them, they’re all fairly standard with the exception of Chris Hemsworth’s hilarious, Evel Kneviel inspired death.

So the plots and characters are really fun but even if they weren’t, the movie might be still be worth watching just for the insanity of the ending sequence where Marty and final girl Dana unleash every horror monster you can possibly imagine onto the facility.  From generic monsters like werewolves, giant snakes and bats and zombies to specific references to characters like Pennyworth the Clown, The Strangers, Pinhead, the girl from The Ring, the twins from The Shining and much more.  The amount of carnage the creatures cause just adds to the fun of seeing all these horror creations run amok.  If you’re a horror fan, this sequence is going to be possibly one of the greatest things you will ever see.

The Cabin in the Woods is a must see if you’re a horror movie fan but it’s still fun and funny if you’re not.  Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins are fantastic and seeing almost every horror monster unleashed in the same movie is worth the price of admission alone, go see it.

4.5 out of 5

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