Release date: September 24th, 2012
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 95 minutes
Director: Drew Goddard
Writers: Drew Goddard, Joss Whedon
Cast: Kristen Connelly, Anna Hutchison, Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams, Fran Kranz, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford
Have you even been to a cabin in the woods, and thought it’s a little like a horror film? The doors that creak, the shadows that creep and the phone that just won’t get signal… What would happen if the creepy farmer down the way did rock up one night with a rusty pitchfork?
I sometimes wonder which role I would take on in such a situation. Is it pre-ordained? Do you know which role you would take on? In horror films, teenagers are often killed off in order of hedonism, so where would I fall? Would I be picked off sooner because of a wild teenage phase, or would my subdued, bookish twenties cancel that out?
To give you too many of the plot details would be to ruin The Cabin In The Woods. The big narrative drivers are ‘what’ and ‘why’, and to know the answers to those would be to take out a lot of the fun. It’s intentionally a slow reveal, and the mystery is such a big part of the experience.
The set-up sees four sexy college students and their geeky pal go to a distant cousin’s new cabin out in the woods. Beers are to be drunk, drugs are to be smoked, dips are to be skinny, but what’s that military-looking man doing perched on the roof? What’s the electro-shield for, and who built it? Is it anything to do with the two shirts waiting in front of the TV screens, and why are they watching?
Dana (Kristen Connelly) is the sensible one, looking forward to a get-away after being dumped by her boyfriend. Jules (Anna Hutchison) has just dyed her hair blonde and is a bit sexy, dating the studly beefcake Curt (Chris Hemsworth). Their dorky stoner pal Marty (Fran Kranz) rants about societal control and longs to ‘get off the grid’ where even the GPS can’t find them. Holden (Jesse Williams) wears glasses, indicating his err towards nerdism and being a Good Guy. With a character in each stereotypical corner, the stage is set. There’s even a creepy guy at a crumbling gas station have way up the mountain… What could possibly go wrong?
Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Hadley (Bradley Whitford) might have something to say about that. I won’t explain, I want you to be in the dark about them like I was, but know that they’re great and easily my favourite characters in the film. Their chemistry was humourous and fraternal, bouncing off each other in a way that made me almost envious of their white collar camaraderie. The betting scene was one of my favourites too, combining something frivolous with an acerbic take on the disposability of human life.
The Cabin In The Woods takes a side-swipe at the mindless slasher film genre with a sharp framed narrative, bringing a medley of horror tropes to the screen. It’s smart and laugh-out-loud funny with a lot of little details that had me hooked and constantly guessing at what was actually going on. Far from being a pastiche of things we’ve seen before, Goddard and Whedon bring such a huge amount of love that I couldn’t help but be enthusiastic too.
Only in the ending did the tension and my interest begin to falter. It seemed like a bit of a disappointment after such a raucous build-up, though the commentary you could read into it perhaps makes up for this. So go on, save the spoilers and sit in the dark, you won’t be disappointed.
Frances likes words and pictures, regardless of media. She finds great comfort and escape in film, and is attracted to anything character-driven with a strong story. Through these stories, she will find meaning in the world. Three movies that Frances thinks are really good for this are You and Me and Everyone We Know (Miranda July), I’m A Cyborg, But That’s OK (Chan-Wook Park), and How I Ended This Summer (Alexei Popogrebsky).
When Frances grows up, she would like to write words and make pictures and have cool people recognise her on the street and tell her that they really enjoy her work.
She can be found overreacting and over-caffeinated on Twitter @penny_face, a childhood moniker from her grandmother owing to her gloriously round face.