This is one of those films that is really difficult to review in any great depth without giving the game away. And with this one, I definitely do not want to ruin it for everyone who is yet to experience this genre re-defining masterpiece.
Now, I’m pretty biased when it comes to anything written by Joss Whedon. The man has been my god (probably even more so my god than Spielberg, Nolan or Fincher) since I was 11 years old and I tuned into the Buffy episode entitled ‘Passion’ (season 2, episode 17). It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. To say I was a fan of Buffy is a gross understatement. I was a full blown, convention attending, action figure collecting geek. So, what you read here is probably going to come exclusively from that little part of me that is still 15 years old and seriously excitable. And therefore you should all read this with a pinch of salt.
I’ve not read many reviews of this film that haven’t liked it. What starts out looking like it could be just another Texas Chainsaw Massacre or (even worse) Wrong Turn actually turns out to be one of the most intelligent horror films that you will ever see. To explain in any more detail will, unfortunately, give the entire twist away. It’s a twist that comes pretty early on in the film and turns the whole thing into what I felt was akin to playing a video game.
For fellow Whedon-ites, you’ll find all your favourite features here; a plucky female heroine, a goofy comedian (who turns out to be anything but the fool), the odd mix of clinical modernity and gritty superstitious occult stuff, and of course, an astounding collection of your worst nightmares.
The film twists everything that its audience might be expecting and then turns the spotlight on the audience themselves. As the plot unfolds and becomes more apparent, you might just start asking yourself why you or your friends like watching people die horrific deaths on screen. The answer is just that humanity may be a little bit sick at heart. The film isn’t accusetory however. It almost addresses its own question and says ‘hey, it’s ok because it’s just a bit of fun and it’s as far from real as you can get’. Sure the film has some jumpy horror-esque sequences, but it’s the comedy that really shines through. It reminded me of Shaun of the Dead in places, and I think that’s about as serious as we should take it.
For the generation that is pervertedly obsessed with Saw 1-56, Hostel or the Final Destination films, The Cabin in the Woods reminds us that while horror should scare us, it should also remind us that reality can be a nice place to escape back into. Especially when the closing 20 minutes of the film is just a cacophony of utter insanity.
The Cabin in the Woods won’t make you fear staying in a hostel or taking a road trip with your friends. It will just make you applaud and praise the god that is Joss Whedon for giving us a horror film that actually has some originality and intellect.