The Horror genre just got a much needed kick in the pants courtesy of Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) and his co-writer Joss Whedon (The Avengers). I won’t mince words here; Cabin in the Woods is indeed a game changer. It might even be THE game changer for all of Horror. I mean, seriously, how do you continue the genre after this philosophical round of Russian roulette with genre conventions and stereotypes?
Horrifying and hysterical, the multi-leveled fear fest is a writer’s wet dream. Because I am sworn to not spoil the film’s many surprises and twists and turns, I must speak in vague terms. Forgive me. You’re expecting five teens to head into a spooky cabin surrounded by a dense forest and plopped right down in the middle of nowhere. Check. You’re expecting dark and twisted things to start hunting them. Check. You’re expecting sex and violence. Check and check again.
Yet the film begins inside the stainless steel walls of a nameless bureaucracy – a move that jettisons all your expectations built by the adverts alone – and divides its time between the teens and bureaucrats. Something different is happening here. This isn’t just a wonderfully entertaining rip on Evil Dead. Workplace for actors Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford (dressed in clean white shirts and black ties), this facility is in the business of scaring up victims.
And I can say no more than this: five high and horny college students on a weekend vacation in a cabin in the woods is only the beginning…and it is my pleasure to keep its secrets from you.
One simply has to see it to believe it.
Cabin in the Woods delivers your standard genre conventions and stereotypes with performances from Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly and Anna Hutchison – the blonde, the jock, the bookworm, the virgin, and the stoner – and subverts expectations with a crackling narrative that simply goes where most screenplays dare not venture. We are talking of religion; of philosophy; of genuine terror and Whedon and Goddard tackle it with humor, intelligence, ample cheese and more and more gore.
Filmed in 2009, one can only scratch their heads and wonder why it sat on a shelf for so long. Genius sometimes has to wait for its moment to arrive. Yes, Cabin in the Woods is that level of genius. It’s a Scooby Doo mystery gone Gonzo with head-spinning meta-references that champion every trope and note audiences love about horror films. Cabin in the Woods may not be the scariest slice of genre fare, but it is the smartest. Any tsk tsk tsk you might have about the film’s use of gore and Corman-esque effects and one-note acting is simply slapped away as part of the unique experience of watching and living and breathing in its (meta)physical graffiti.
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity.
Runtime: 105 mins.
Director: Drew Goddard
Writer: Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard
Cast: Kristen Connolly; Chris Hemsworth; Anna Hutchison; Richard Jenkins; Jesse Williams
Tagline: If an old man warns you not to go there... make fun of him.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I'll get you there. Gettin' back, that's your concern."
Official Site: enterthecabin.com
Release Date: April 13, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: September 18, 2012.
Synopsis: If you think you know this story, think again. From fan favorites Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard comes The Cabin in the Woods, a mind blowing horror film that turns the genre inside out.
Available on Blu-ray - September 18, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); Digital copy (as download)
Playback: Region A
Presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode from Lionsgate is high on specific detail and flush with color. The early daylight scenes are most vivid and interiors ripple with fine texture. Faces are warm and speckled with weathered textures and smooth lines. Colors absolutely pop and bubble to the surface with the primary colors being the most vibrant. Unfortunately, the black levels are a little inconsistent and a majority of the nighttime scenes suffer from compression flaws and shadows simply don’t hold their shape anymore. Large parts of the transfer are crushed by noisy black levels. They don’t ruin the movie but they are noticeable. The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is such an immersive thrill ride listening experience that it should be the blu-ray standard. Crank it up!
- Provided by Writer/Director Drew Goddard and Writer/Producer Joss Whedon, the commentary is a nerd-infused delight. The two have been friends for ten years and their kinship is obvious. The track is fast, loose, and full of information about the production and some fun facts you might have otherwise not noticed.
With a pretty extensive supplemental offering, Lionsgate’s release is a winner. The thorough ‘We Are Not Who We Are’ is an awesome look at the making of the madness. Everything about the film is detailed. From the first motel-room-created draft to the final shot, all aspects of the movie are discussed with Whedon even commenting on some of the negative reactions to the film. In 'Marty's Stash' and 'Hi, My Name is Joss and I'll Be Your Guide', viewers are given guides through the cabin set. The FX and Make-Up techniques are given a good featurette with ‘An Army of Nightmares’ and ‘Primal Terror’ that highlights what the filmmakers accomplished in the film’s rushed schedule and low budget. Finally, the Wonder-Con, Q&A session is included and features Goddard and Whedon taking questions after a screening of the film. The information is a bit repetitive after listening to the commentary but a fun inclusion nonetheless.
- We Are Not Who We Are: Making 'The Cabin in the Woods' (29 min)
- The Secret Stash (13 min)
- An Army of Nightmares: Make-Up & Animatronic Effects (12 min)
- Primal Terror: Visual Effects (12 min)
- Wonder-Con Q&A (28 min)
- Theatrical Trailer