2012, USA, Drew Goddard, 95 min.
This isn’t really a review of Drew Goddard’s brilliant and entertaining film. This is more a rant on the usual genre movies and a love-letter to the ones that got it right.
As most reviewers are doing. I am going to avoid describing Cabin in the Woods and just urge you to go see it. Don’t read about it. Don’t watch previews. If you are a fan of film, just go see this one.
What I can say is that while watching this movie I was thoroughly entertained. I have watched a lot of films, and it is rare when a great film comes along that is different and surprising.
Sure, there are a lot of films that are different and surprising (The films of Noboru Iguchi for example), but most of that lot suffer from the misplaced notion that being bizarre and shocking is enough to make a good film.
Cabin in the Woods is the rare film that provides a refreshing and engaging viewing experience by being smart. Let’s face it. Most horror films are stupid and most horror fans are as well.
Yes, I know that is insulting. But watching a film like Cabin in the Woods makes me realize how genre audiences have let themselves be treated for years. By praising the likes of Saw, Hostel, Trick ‘r Treat, Dead Snow, Splinter, [REC] and Chillerama as “fresh new horror”, we (myself included) are lowering the bar. We are just asking for more of the same. More slashers, more gore, more stupid humor and copy-and-paste writing.
The film that I can most closely compare Cabin in the Woods to is Shaun of the Dead. The same things make both films great: A knowledge of what came before them, a fresh and unique script, the intelligence to present the story with the proper tone, and a breakout director helming the production. Both films have enough respect for the audience to create something different.
Props need to go to Joss Whedon for pulling this together, to Drew Goddard for showing he is a true talent, and to all the actors involved who played their parts pitch-perfectly. Especially Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, and Fran Kranz. I can go on, but what I really want to say is that Cabin in the Woods makes me realize why I love genre film, and makes me realize why we shouldn’t settle for the same old movie just because it falls into a genre that we know and love.