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A Cabin Worth Visiting


After shielding my ears and eyes from all spoilers for months, I finally got a chance to see Cabin In the Woods, the horror satire by Drew Goddard and horror wunderkind Joss Whedon   The film is as crafty as I imagined it would be, poking fun at the horror movie genre, teen flicks and humanity as a whole. Whedon and Goddard have created quite an epic parable and have succeeded in every way.

Writing a synopsis without giving away any spoilers is a Herculean task but here goes.  Five kids travel to a remote cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway. Nothing is as it seems though as a secretive government agency pits themselves against the kids in a duel to the death.

Part of the joy of this film is the casting, which includes Whedon alumni Amy Acker (TV’s Angel) and Fran Kranz (TV’s Dollhouse). Bradley Whitford from the West Wing and Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins who usually play heavily moralistic characters are demonic as the jovial leaders of the government unit who treat the maniacal machinations of their job like an office party.  The film also features a newcomer who became famous during the years between filming and its eventual release, Thor’s Chris Hemsworth.

All the actors are in on the joke, particularly the cast of adults. There is an amoral glee that is both smarmy and enjoyable to watch. The best performance comes from a cameo appearance at the film’s end whose name I will not reveal — only to say that it fits beautifully with this person’s past repertoire and perfectly spoofs those roles.

As the kids, Hemsworth, Kranz, Anna Hutchison, Jesse Williams, and Kristen Connolly play up their characters’ iconic personas. They are a horror version of The Breakfast Club: the jock, the fool, the brain, the whore and the virgin.

Like Kevin Williamson’s script for Scream back in the 90s, Cabin In The Woods makes audiences question everything they think they know about the horror genre. There is also is a subtext that is apropos for the political climate in which we are living, one that questions whether a society that would do anything to survive would really be worth its survival.

Visually, Goddard has filled the screen with many inside jokes that will keep genre fans giggling and constantly on their toes. This is not a movie that someone can watch just once. There are Easter eggs throughout that will be caught on multiple viewings.

Like Quentin Tarantino films, the gore is so over-the-top it’s meant to be laughed at, something very shocking but always tongue-in-cheek.
At a time where our films are becoming stale and 3-D-ified (thankfully this film was not shot in 3D as the studio originally demanded), it is a joy to see a film that was made BY movie lovers FOR movie lovers.  Not studio executives looking to cash in on the latest fad. Thank you Joss Wheaton once again for reminding us how to scream.  Grade: A-

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