The Cabin in the Woods (2011) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

The Cabin in the Woods gets one thing right, it has a great title. One that evokes all sorts of nightmare scenarios, unfortunately thats about all I can commend this horror comedy for. Part satire, part homage, and very boring is a more accurate description of the impact this annoyingly smug little film had on me. Director Drew Goddard working from a screenplay co-written by Joss Whedon, is responsible for this outlandish tale that starts like most films in the genre but has far greater aspirations. That the film is entirely unsuccessful has partially to do with the fact that Goddard and Whedon, try to cram too much into what appears to be a low-budget thriller. Tonally the film is a mess, it wants to have it both ways. Are we supposed to laugh at the knowing winks to genre conventions or be startled by the routine slasher moments? In the end I was not impressed or entertained by either.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment to be had in The Cabin in the Woods is the screenplay from usually sturdy Joss Whedon. This project feels like an inside joke between film buffs and horror convention addicts. The five main characters are never established sufficiently to care about whom survives and who gets slaughtered. It is almost impossible to give a detailed plot description without including major spoilers for potential audience members. I will say that the trailer has nods to the actual storyline. Although I suspect, most ticket-buyers, will leave greatly disappointed in what amounts to a bait and switch tactic from the filmmakers and Lionsgate’s marketing department.

Since the early 1980s the horror genre has focused on mad slashers carving their way through horny, drunken teenagers, usually in a rural environment. By the late 1990s these films had run their course, the reinvigoration in popularity a few years later was due to the self-depricating Scream films. Now with the arrival of The Cabin in the Woods that sub-genre has seemingly run its course. If you are looking for a traditional horror film, this is not your movie. If you want a comedy, there is not much to laugh at either. The audience is left with an unpleasant looking film that creates more questions than it answers. Perhaps the best thing I can say about The Cabin in the Woods is that the sequel possibilities are zilch. Whew!

Director: Drew Goddard
Stars: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison

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