We’ve all seen it so many times that I kind of get angry when a filmmaker sends me their latest horror opus and it’s comprised of the same premise. A bunch of teenagers have commandeered a cabin in the woods for the weekend, and decide that they want to get away for a few days of beer drinking and misdeeds of the sexual nature. While there they discover that the cabin houses a bunch of secrets that could be their undoing. And it’s all being manipulated by a secret government lab hidden underneath the cabin, manipulating every single moment of their weekend like a game of chess. Ah, but that’s not the whole story.
The kids have accidentally unleashed something demonic from the woods, but they’re not wholly demonic. They are, but they’re indeed products of the secret laboratory. Ah, but that’s not the entire story. The laboratory has nefarious purposes of their own and they’re intent on keeping the game going. Ah, but that’s not the whole story. I don’t want to give it away for anyone who has yet to see it, but “The Cabin in the Woods” is indeed a meta slasher film that takes the doldrums of the cabin in the woods horror films and gives it a twist that is not only surprising, but incredibly unique. The fight against the demonic forces is not just a fight for survival, but a fight against the game that is being played among what can only be described as human sacrifices. Writers Goddard and Whedon contribute their array of fine and classic horror devices that give our characters every conceivable chance to fail, and the game is being conducted in order to allow them to die and barely stand a chance.
They just never count on the inclusion of young and resilient Dana, who will do whatever it takes to make it out of this death trap. There are endless layers to the premise presented for audiences, an all of it is provided with enough screen time to allow us a chance to understand what is occurring without feeling like Whedon and Goddard squeezed in an enormous amount of under developed plot points. “The Cabin in the Woods” looks at a world on the brink of destruction, and the only way anyone can actually survive is if they’re given the task of becoming unwitting subjects for a horror movie never to be seen by anyone but the scientists in their underground bunkers.
With a healthy sense of humor, and a sardonic wit, “The Cabin in the Woods” is one part horror film, and one part comedy with a hint of self reflection on a genre lacking challenging concepts. Whedon picks and chooses his cast perfectly with folks like Bradley Whitford, and Richard Jenkins carrying most of the comedic material, while the Franz Kanz is memorable as inadvertent hero Marty. There is just so much more to the scenery in the film that meets the eye, and from minute one it becomes a matter of outwitting the machinations of this underground group, as well as the group themselves. Goddard directs with a frequent change in tone and atmosphere, channeling the likes of Sam Raimi on many occasions while injecting his sense of satire in the proceedings that keep the events tense and horrific while also very tongue in cheek.
Writer Whedon defies expectations at every turn, providing wonderful plot twists, incredible commentary on contemporary horror tropes, and a blood soaked climax that is shocking, hysterical, and chaotic. This is Whedon basically unleashing his unchecked horror aggression on his fans, and it culminates in to an utterly brilliant horror feast. With a clever premise, and a unique concept, “The Cabin in the Woods” is a horror comedy romp filled with brilliant plot twists, and a unique sense of comedy timing that will keep fans laughing and reeling in horror simultaneously.