Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods: Movie Review


Twisting the horror genre to make it smart and funny as well as gory.
First disclaimer: I don’t like horror movies. Second disclaimer: I had no intention of watching this until it picked up a few original screenplay nominations and under the “comedy” genre. A horror-comedy, now we’re talking. “The Cabin in the Woods” is not just a comedy in the vain of going over-the-top with the horror; it’s a comedy in the sense that they’re insulting humankind, horror filmmakers, and what humankind is going to become because of horror filmmakers. 2011

Directed by: Drew Goddard

Screenplay by: Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard

Starring: Kristen Connolly, Fran Kanz, Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford

From left to right: Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Holden (Jesse Williams),
Jules (Anna Hutchison), Marty (Fran Kanz) and Dana (Kristen Connolly)
Five young people are off to a remote cabin for a weekend in the woods. Jules’s (Anna Hutchison) is the hot blonde cheerleader-type who’s dating the football captain jock guy, Curt (Chris Hemsworth). Jules’s best friend is Dana (Kristen Connolly) she’s the single, independent girl looking for a good boyfriend. Holden (Jesse Williams) is the attractive, smart and athletic guy who was brought along by Curt as Dana’s love interest. And then there’s Marty (Fran Kanz) as the lovable stoner idiot. Yes, they are stereotypical characters for the genre. But there’s good reason for that. All the actors played their part but Kanz was able to add an almost magical quality to Marty that he was the stand-out.

From left to right: Sitterson (Richard Jenkins), Lin (Amy Adams)
and Hadley (Bradley Whitford) in THE CABIN IN THE WOODS.
We’re also introduced to Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins as two executive scientist type people. They’re in charge of some kind of high-tech lab but we don’t know what. Whitford and Jenkins are not just good actors, but they’re mature actors. They don’t take roles just for the paycheck; there’s usually an extra intelligent quotient to their roles. Not surprisingly, they are part of the twist — the twist which no respectable review would ever reveal.

Frustrating to me (because I don’t like horror) but probably the right thing to do, they started to write in interesting changes to some of the characters, while other characters evolved in a stereotypical manner, all the while the plot is following the standard horror plot. Dead people, things and other scary killers come hunting after the kids in the cabin in the woods, and we get gore. I would have loved trying to figure out what the movie was up to by following the evolution of the characters, but my eyes gloss over and my mind goes blank and then wanders away whenever they go for shock-value gruesome and gory violence.

Fran Kanz stars as "Marty" in THE CABIN IN THE WOODS. Photo credit: Diyah Pera.
Luckily they got me back for the ending. A fairly smart ending, but more importantly, a funny ending, and an enjoyable one. It is a horror movie, so there’s no way around that, but it’s a good addition to the horror-comedy genre and this will hopefully keep me from having to see another horror movie for another decade or so.