‘The Cabin in the Woods’ (2011) Review
You could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a live action Scooby Doo movie in the opening scenes of ‘The Cabin in the Woods’. Alpha male Curt (Chris Hemsworth) and glam counterpart Jules (Anna Hutchison) snap up the roles of Fred and Daphne. The spaced-out but personable Marty (Fran Kranz) is shaggier than Shaggy and lastly, the role of nerdy Velma is split between Dana (Kristen Connolly) and Holden (Jesse Williams). Off they go in their camper-van, with the motorbike stuck to the back, to the upbeat vibe of Switchfoot’s ‘The Sound’. As if Enid Blyton herself wrote it, Five Go to the Cabin in the Woods.
Typical Horror Characters
They arrive at their weekend hideaway (unsurprisingly, a cabin in some woods) and life is good. The action switches from time-to-time to a large corporation which seems to be keeping tabs on our young protagonists. As the film progresses, their characters become more established in true horror style, with Jules worrying everyone with how slutty she has become (purely from a horror convention perspective) and Dana seeming to regress into virginity, although we know that she has recently had a relationship with one of her tutors. Cue birds-eye shots, atmospheric music and droplets of foreshadowing. The gang end up in the cabin cellar, which is clearly a bad idea and from then on in, you need to have the fingers of one hand free, through which to peep.
Hemsworth and Hutchison are suitably 2-dimensional as Curt and Jules respectively, while Connolly and Williams flaunt Dana’s and Holden’s intellect to deepen their characters. But Kranz steals the show as Marty, seeming to be the only one in full possession of enough faculties to question questionable decisions such as the one to split up, which is a certain forerunner to doom. He is the vehicle for some classic one-liners, such as:
"Yeah - I kinda dismembered that guy with a trowel. What have you been up to?"
Conventionality with a Twist
As the audience, you will not be the only ones placing bets on who meets their grim demise first.
‘The Cabin in the Woods’ is a parody pitched somewhere between the ‘Scream’ franchise (subtle) and the ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ franchise (obvious). Writers Joss Whedon (also producer) and Drew Goddard (also director) have given us a horror that conforms to every convention … and then given it a twist.
Horror Meets Slasher
AFX Studio are responsible for the special effects, monster costumes, special makeup and prosthetic makeup and when the action moves from the cabin and its simple family of redneck zombies, we see their full capabilities. Considering that some of the shots are fleeting, there has been no expense spared in every possible monster from your worst nightmares.
This is a movie that will make you feel uncomfortable. But is it because we are sentient beings with a genuine empathy towards others? Or is it because it reminds us horror/slasher fans that we, too, are voyeuristic enough to enjoy a little torture porn? Watch it anyway.