“You think you know the story.” Braced for some bad plot twists, eerie dramatic music and the twitching impulse to cover my eyes, I approached The Cabin in the Woods ready for a scary movie.
I am not much of a scary movie buff. Horror movies, with their endless chainsaws, blood and torture chambers — they’re not my thing. That being said, The Cabin in the Woods defies these conventions, going so far as to being one of the most entertaining movies I have seen in a long time. Never fear, horror fans,Cabin is not lacking in blood, gore or torture chambers. It still comes with your standard slutty co-eds and jocks with bodies that can’t exist outside of Hollister ads. But as far as I know, a horror movie plot has never been done quite this way before.
The movie begins in an office building. The camera follows what appear to be two egotistical middle-aged researchers. They are working at some corporation in fierce competition with another in Japan. But before we have a chance to figure out what these people are doing and why they are even relevant, we are forwarded to our five co-eds.
They are getting ready to go on a trip to — you guessed it — a cabin in the woods. Screenwriter Joss Whedon’s affection for Scooby Doo-esque gangs isn’t lost here. We have our attractive, athletic Fred and Daphne couple. Of course our Fred — by the name of Curt (Chris Hemsworth) — is our gang captain. There’s the nerdy girl (Kristin Connolly) as well as our classic stoner boy (Fran Kranz). There is no dog to replace Scooby, but Jesse Williams does look a lot like Lil Bow Wow.
The gang gets on their way and everything seems normal enough. They have a keg, they’re making painfully corny jokes, there’s a creepy guy at a gas station who might as well be holding a sign saying “You’re Gonna Die!” — life is good. But as time goes on, little things — like a bird vaporizing in a force field, an earpiece-wearing man on their roof, the flipping back and forth to the “research” company — all leave us wondering: What is really happening? The clues we get along the way, and the more-than-obvious hints before someone gets killed, should make this movie pretty benign. But if anything it feels like this movie takes advantage of our pauses for comedic relief and scares us just the same.
I am dying to review this in more depth — seriously my fingers are twitching, but I care too much about all of you too much to spoil it. Part of the beauty of this movie is that when you go in, you think you know the story. Even when you get more and more information, the plot seems pretty predictable. But two-thirds of the way through, you’ll be thrown a curve ball and think, “Damn, good thing Arielle didn’t spoil this for me. She’s awesome!”
So instead I will say this: you don’t have to be a scary movie fan to like this film. If you enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Men in Black movies, sci-fi or simply the craftiness of cinema, this movie is for you. Only Joss Whedon could’ve taken the horror/sci-fi genre and mocked it with such self-awareness and still invest in each story strand so deeply. Director and co-writer Drew Goddard and Whedon attack and scare you, but also give you your sweet revenge.