SXSW Film: THE CABIN IN THE WOODS

The Cabin in the Woods is a film that it is best to see blind, any knowledge of its actual plot line tends to take away from the magic of the story. That being said it is going to be extremely hard not to ruin aspects of the film in this review. From now on Cabin in the Woods will be one of those films that is a must see on opening day, because after this film is unleashed on the public it is all anyone will be talking about.

Cabin in the Woods is a film that has always been steeped in controversy. The film was a casualty of 2010 MGM bankruptcy, and had been searching for a home until finally landing on the doorstep of Lionsgate. Though with writer/producer Joss Whedon involved fans tend to expect a little hardship to tag along side their excitement. Cabin could be placed alongside things like Firefly and Dollhouse with just as much fan support as there was disappointment in a lacking continuation of a story line. With things taking a turn for the better for Joss there is no better time than now to release The Cabin in the Woods.

On the surface the film appears to be one of your run of the mill cabin slasher horror films, that takes cues from the ever popular Evil Dead franchise. If you run strictly of what the trailer is portraying, you may wonder why you should rush to see this film. From the film’s opening dialogue you’ll realize The Cabin in the Woods is like no other horror film you have ever seen. Rather than your run of the mill horror-zombie-slasher, the film is more like the ultimate horror mash-up. While at times horrific the film plays out more like an addition to the Edgar Wright brand of horror, as it pays homage to the greats while still creating something new and original. Something so original that a minor description could ruin the film’s ability to surprise you.

As Director Drew Goddard’s motion picture debut The Cabin in the Woods never misses a beat. Goddard is never plagued with the mistakes of many first timers by letting any situation play on too long. The film is as fast paced as it is interesting. You are never left waiting for a new twist or scare. It’s this attention to detail that makes The Cabin in the Woods the great film that it is. Goddard creates situations that will leave fan boys in study for days and makes you wish you could pause and rewind the film on a constant basis to confirm what you saw was real. Like the films of Edgar Wright, reference is god and any fan of horror will be left smiling from ear to ear by the time the credits role. The only knock I can give him is in a few plot holes that are so small they will create a backlash on the IMDB forums if mentioned.

While the film boasts the A list Chris Hemsworth it’s in Fran Kranz, Richard Jenkins, and Bradley Whitford that the film really shines. Fran has been a Whedon favorite since his role in Dollhouse and watching the film with a theater full of Whedon fanatics you can tell the sentiment still remains. Rooting for Fran’s character Marty to survive becomes one of the film’s beast features. Whedon and Goddard know their audience and Fran puts on a historical performance that is deserving of fan obsession. The pairing of Jenkins and Whitford is the key to comic gold and in The Cabin in the Woods they have never looked better. Telling you more than they are great as Steve and Richard, respectively, would ruin the mystery behind their story. Just know their performances will go down in history as a fan-boy’s wet dream.

While The Cabin in the Woods is more comedy than horror it’s still well worth the wait that it took to make it to the screen. This film will leave you laughing in analytical frenzy while you search for small details in classic archetypes. The film won’t make it many film study course’s agendas, but the conversations it will generate and stacks of Avengers comics will be worth auditing. The Cabin in the Woods is a film for the pure cinema geek, the person that cringes at the thought of an Evil Dead remake and finds solace in a marathon of Firefly on the Sci Fi Channel. The film’s not perfect but it is pure cinematic fun that will live in collectors tins for years to come.

I give The Cabin in the Woods 4 “murderous unicorns” out of 5

by Ryan Davis

About Ryan Davis

Ryan is the Founder of Lost in Reviews, a member of The Kansas City Film Critic's Circle, and a key component in the movement to digitally restore the 1986 classic film The Gate. Ryan is also the co-host of Blu Monday a DVD and Blu Ray review show which Lost in Reviews co-founder Angela Davis also appears. While he may be a film and music snob, that doesn't mean you can't be friends. Well it could if you don't like the same bands or films he does, overall it might be best to avoid the subject all together.

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