DREW Goddard’s feature, The Cabin in the Woods, certificate 15, is as much a blood soaked love letter to horror’s cinematic history as it is a clever reinvention of the tried and tested clichés within the genre
The film is Goddard’s directorial debut. The American has largely worked as a screenwriter within the industry,working within in television and cinema. His notable work to date, includes the screenplay for the 2008 feature, Cloverfield.
Goddard, co wrote the script for The Cabin in the Woods alongside long-time collaborator, Joss Whedon. The two have worked together before on the TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Whedon has described the film as an attempt to revitalize the horror genre.
The feature was actually filmed in 2009. Due to the financial difficulties of the film’s distributor, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, it is only now being released in cinemas, three years later.
The film stars American actress, Kristen Connolly as the film’s central protagonist, college student Dana. Australian actor, Chris Hemsworth, who portrays Thor in the upcoming, Avengers Assemble film, also features as fellow student, Curt Vaughan.
It’s hard to discuss the film’s plot in too much depth without spoiling the films twists and turns. With its bizarre opening credits and cryptic prologue, in which two technicians played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford discuss an upcoming operation, due to commence shortly.
Both hint to the viewer that there’s more at play within the feature and it’s not just another formulaic horror movie.
As the five college students descend upon the cabin, all manner of hell breaks loose. But is everything truly what it appears to be, together the group must discover the truth about what really is going on.
The film has a wonderful sense of madness throughout its one hour 35 minute runtime. It’s pacing is fast and frantic and the final half hour is quite possibly the most joyfully over the top climax to a feature, this reviewer can remember.
There are plenty of visual homage’s to classic horror films, such as Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise. The film feels like a post modern take on Raimi’s classic with elements of the Big Brother style feature, The Truman show, thrown in for good measure. The film’s concept is not dissimilar to Marc Evans, underrated 2002 horror feature, My Little Eye and Michael Haneke’s 1997 chiller, Funny Games.
The film’s greatest strengths are its clever observation on how viewers watch horror films. Playing with the perceived rules and connotations within the horror movie genre, ingeniously attempting to explain why people act the way they do within these films.
As clever and witty as the film’s script may be, the feature isn’t actually that scary. Lacking shock value hardened horror fans have come to expect. As the film’s plot slowly reveals itself the feature feels more surreal, than genuinely terrifying.
Overall, in my opinion, The Cabin in the Woods is quite possibly one of the most important horror films, since Wes Craven breathed new life into the slasher killer genre of horror, with the 1996 feature, Scream.
Much like that film, Goddard’s feature revitalizes the horror genre that has recently become so overpopulated with substandard horror films preoccupied with the torture porn phenomenon. Considering the film’s post production hell, it’s well worth the three year wait.
Review by William McClean