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Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 177: Cabin In The Woods

Cabin In The Woods
Cabin designed by H.R. Giger

People love Joss Whedon. They love him more than their own blood relatives. They think he's greater than sliced bread. If they could, they would make a sandwich out of him. While that might be much, he's written a lot of great television and movies. I really enjoyed the Buffy The Vampire Slayer television show. I don't know much about Firefly, but search “Firefly petition” on any search engine and you'll see people love that show second only to breathing. Of course, people overlook his involvement in Waterworld and Alien: Resurrection, but you can keep those in your back pocket if you ever want to make a nerd's head explode. His writing credits for movies also include Toy Story, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Titan AE. How would he stack up writing a full-length horror movie?

Cabin In The Woods is a 2012 horror film, written by Joss Whedon and directed/co-written by Drew Goddard (Cloverfield, Lost), starring Kristen Connolly (The Happening, Guiding Light) as Dana Polk. Dana goes on a trip to a cabin in the woods with her friends Jules (Anna Hutchison, Power Rangers, Wild Boys), Curt (Chris Hemsworth, Thor, The Avengers), stoner Marty (Fran Kranz, The Village, Dollhouse) and newcomer Holden (Jesse Williams, Brooklyn's Finest, Grey's Anatomy), whom Jules is trying to set Dana up with. They stop to get gas at a run down station, where a creepy man warns them not to go ahead. They ignore his warnings and make it to the cabin. Holden discovers a two-way mirror between rooms and Dana covers it with a blanket. Unbeknownst to them, their trip is being closely monitored by a sophisticated group, led by Richard Sitterson (Richard Jenkins, Me, Myself, And Irene, The Visitor) and Steve Hadley (Bradley Whitford, Billy Madison, The West Wing). The group has cameras setup inside and outside the house and are pumping different chemicals into the house, affecting the group's personalities and actions. The group soon falls into horror movie cliches, with Dana acting the virgin role, Jules becoming the whore, Curt becoming the jock, Holden as the brain, and Marty as the fool. They are manipulated into going into the cellar, which is filled with strange artifacts. Dana reads from an old diary belonging to a young girl describing horrible violence and destruction. She reads a Latin incantation, unwittingly raising a family of redneck torture zombies. Soon the group is picked off one by one. Marty discovers a camera in his room and survives the attack along with Dana. They discover an elevator that leads down to the facility that has set up their night of terror. Why were they brought to the cabin and how will they survive?

The prettiest group of victims since Mean Girls

I wasn't sure what to expect when I first started watching Cabin In The Woods. I knew there was some horror genre-bending, but was expecting something like Hack or Hatchet, where there would just be an onslaught of stupid horror references and no story. Thankfully I was wrong, as the story is both creative and entertaining. The movie breaks down into two stories; the cabin portion and the facility portion. It doesn't waste time letting you know that some sort of conspiracy is afoot, which helps increase interest and excitement. The cabin portion is a fun nod to plenty of horror movies such as Evil Dead and Pumpkinhead. The characters slipping into the typical horror cliches is fun to watch as the acting is very good and believable. Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford and both quite enjoyable and funny, despite technically being villains. I was a bit indifferent towards the zombie rednecks. They look good, though, some scenes were a bit too dark for me. Maybe I'm just tired of zombies being in everything. The movie made up for the lack of diversity when the second portion of the movie commences. Horror fans will have a blast catching all the references when we see the other creatures being held in the facility. Both are very good and acknowledge other horror movies without smashing you over the head with references.

The movie balances legitimately funny humor with good action and violence. Fans of Buffy will definitely appreciate how Cabin In The Woods is written and set up. It brought to mind certain episodes of Buffy, such as “Band Candy” “Homecoming” and the whole Riley/Initiative storyline. Whedon and Goddard create clever dialogue that is well executed by the actors. The movie is cast well and even includes a small role by Sigourney Weaver (Alien, Ghostbusters). The movie ends on a fairly big down-note, especially for an American movie, and I think they actually missed out on possible sequels. Also, I'm upset they passed up the ultimate opportunity to have Cthulhu in a movie. I guess it's a compliment to want to see sequels, but maybe it's for the best.

Enjoy the references

Cabin In The Woods is a fun horror movie for both horror buffs and non horror fans alike. The writing is quick and clever with good humor. The love for Joss Whedon is understandable after seeing the movie. There is a good amount of action, blood, and gore with nice touches of mystery and thrills. The special effects look very good and the acting is spot-on, helping to elevate the movie to another level. While there were a few things I would have changed, Cabin In The Woods is a very enjoyable movie and I definitely recommend it.


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