Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cabin in the Woods

When it comes to scary movies, it’s hard to find gems. The fact of the matter is originality's not the genre’s strong suit, not to mention its “b-movie” reputation. With that said, I had high hopes for Cabin in the Woods, written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (also directed by the latter), though I could tell it was going to be a polarizing film, meaning it was one of those movies that the audience was either going to love or hate with no grey area in between.

In order to find out which it would be, I decided to check out Cabin in the Woods on opening night. For those who don’t know, IMDb states the premise of the horror/thriller: “Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.”

Sounds simple, like your run-of-the-mill scary movie, but the unassuming premise was the only thing simple about the film. You must understand, both Whedon and Goddard are an eclectic duo. The former wrote and directed a laundry list of TV episodes including Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, while also directing the upcoming The Avengers. Additionally, he has writing credits for Toy Story, Alien: Resurrection and Titan A.E. Likewise, Goddard has written for TV shows Lost, Alias, Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, while also having penned the feature film Cloverfield.

So the question is begged, why are these two experienced, well-versed and highly respected men making an ordinary horror movie? The answer is, they’re not. Instead, they opted to make a horror movie and inject it with what they knew best . . . sci-fi . . . comedy . . . super beings . . . and crazy twists. It’s a tall order, but they managed to pull it off.

I don’t want to give away too much, because that will ruin the twist and the fun, but I can confidently say, for better or worse, it’s not what you’re expecting. I’d really like to comment on specifics, like some of the monsters/creatures you’ll encounter in Cabin in the Woods (many of which pay homage to various horror movies), but I really don’t want to spoil anything. I’ll just say I enjoyed the twist and the turn the movie took. It wasn’t expected, and while it was a little absurd, it was highly entertaining.

As far as the performances go, Chris Hemsworth is your only headliners, which is ironic considering this movie was filmed before he became famous on Thor. You see, Cabin in the Woods was originally made by MGM, but when they dealt with bankruptcy, the film was shelved for approximately two years before Lionsgate gave it new life. Hemsworth’s performance isn’t noteworthy, but certainly satisfactory.

Likewise, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchinson, Franz Kranz and Jesse Williams decent job of rounding out the five main characters. Throw in Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford as Sitterson and Hadley respectively, and you have a well-rounded cast. In fact, I think the latter two did a great job and added some great, albeit menacing, comic relief into the story.

Cabin in the Woods turned out to be anything but a typical slasher flick. Instead, it became a wild ride that captured the imagination. The film didn’t take itself too seriously, and neither did I . . . it was a horror movie after all. Put another way, if you go into this movie expecting seriousness and plausibility, you’re going to hate it; on the other hand, if  you’re going in with low expectations given it’s a scary movie, which tend to be implausible anyway, then I think you’re going to have a great time.

Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 69%

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