Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods (****1/2)

Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods (****1/2)


Genre: Horror

Premise: Five friends go on vacation to a remote cabin in the woods, where unspeakable horrors await them.  You only think you know the story.

Behind-the-Scenes: Completed in 2009, The Cabin in the Woods was one of the victims of MGM's bankruptcy, until Lionsgate rescued it from the shelf.  Co-writer/director Drew Goddard previously scripted Cloverfield.  Co-writer/producer Joss Whedon is about to have a very good month with this and The Avengers, which opens May 4.

The Good: It's difficult to describe what's so great about this movie without getting into spoilers, which you should avoid at all costs.  What I can tell you is that this is an ingenious piece of genre filmmaking.  The smartest horror movie I've seen in forever.  Goddard and Whedon's script is infinitely clever, riffing on all the classic horror motifs while wholeheartedly embracing certain elements of the genre.  The plot twists and turns in delightfully unexpected ways.  When all hell breaks loose at the end, I had a geektastic smile plastered all over my face - I almost couldn't believe what I was seeing.  It was that awesome.  The five actors who play the unwitting victims (which includes Thor's Chris Hemsworth and Dollhouse's Fran Kranz) transcend their intentionally stereotypical roles, but it's Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford who walk away with the movie.  Too bad I can't tell you what they're doing in it.  If you thought Scream was meta, you ain't seeing nothing yet.  This is mega-meta, in the best way possible.

The Bad:  As a horror movie, it's not all that scary.

Should You See It?:  Oh yes.  Immediately.  Even if you're not a horror fan, you owe it to yourself to see The Cabin in the Woods.  Will easily make my Top 10 of 2012.

Rating: ****1/2 out of 5 stars.

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