‘The Cabin in the Woods’ – Clever, different, but not perfect

Joss Whedon The Cabin in the Woods
Director Drew Goddard. 2011
A friend of mine asked me if I liked Cabin in the Woods immediately I said yes. But, I took a few days, well a few weeks to think about it. The answer to the question is still yes.

However, that’s not to say I didn’t have some issues with the film. The question also has me wondering did I like it because I already knew what Cabin in the Woods was doing ahead of time. Or, is it just good? Now how to explain my thoughts to you on why I think it’s both, without spoiling you. It’s tricky, but here goes nothing.

There is a bit of an experiment going on in Cabin in the Woods:

Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen. If you think you know this story, think again.

The film was written by both Joss Whedon (Buffy and the upcoming awesome, The Avengers) and its director, Lost writer, Drew Goddard. It stars some extremely delightful male eye-candy in Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Jesse Williams Grey’s Anatomy and some girl people. Just like the above description stated two hots, a stoner and two chicks go on a road trip for the weekend. Of course meeting along the way the naysaying-you’re-all-going-to-die character playing straight to type – oh did I mention he’s also doing a redneck preacher impression. I’m not even sure of the region of the country they’re in, but Naysaying mentioned something about The Woah-ar (that’s War for those who don’t speak Southern) and since in The South there was only that War from that one time with North. So my guess is they are somewhere in Georgia.

Back to the experiment. Spoiler Alert!
The film plays to its formula, there are characters that like stated play to type, there’s the jock, the nerd, the stoner, the virgin and the slut. And of course these types going to a cabin in the woods, on a weekend there’s sex and drugs. We all know that equals death for all. But, like the tagline states, ‘If you think you know this story, think again.’ Yes, there’s something sinister going on, but it’s a different kind of machete wielding maniac out to get these kids. There’s a bigger plan in play and therein is the problem some viewers will have, either you will love or hate the twist.

The film itself is a true horror film sort of, because there are kills and pretty good ones for the most part, but the problem comes in with what is actually controlling the situation in its entirety. The concept is interesting, but it was lacking severity in my opinion to make it scary per se. If you are used to Whedon’s humor you will enjoy the dialogue and its delivery by a really competent ensemble. Watch out for great performances by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford.

Cabin in the Woods is in theaters right now.