Josh Wilding Reviews: THE CABIN IN THE WOODS
Written by Joss Whedon (The Avengers) and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield), there has been an understandable amount of hype surrounding this clever take on a horror movie. Does it manage to live up to it? Well, yes and no. [Minor Spoilers Ahead]
There has been an awful lot of hype surrounding The Cabin in the Woods. For months, we've had to endure the endless gushing of bloggers and reviewers who have praised the film as a bold new step which redefines the horror genre. So, does it? Well, no, not really. While the concept is undeniably clever and original, the majority of it falls flat, making it likely that only the most hardcore of horror fanboys will end up viewing The Cabin in the Woods as being worthy of the praise heaped upon it. Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard's script is good, but ends up being neither quite as clever or funny as it wants to be. Some of the jokes feel particularly out of place, although a lot of the dialogue does feels natural and entertaining. However, it never drags and there are definitely a fair few memorable moments. Goddard's directorial debut is good, if somewhat unremarkable. It should definitely be worth keeping an eye on his future projects though.
As you may or may not already know, there's a big twist in the film and if you'd rather know nothing at all about that, it's probably best to stop reading now. Part of the film is your typical slasher movie fare and that's exactly where the things go wrong. The characters are a clichéd bunch, and entirely uninteresting and one-dimensional. While this is sort of the point, it makes them no less tedious to watch. How are we supposed to care about these guys when they're so damn unlikeable?! There are some decent scares and gore which make the scenes at the cabin genuinely frightening and fun. On the other side of the equation, we have the big "twist" and that at least does provide some entirely original moments. Seeing an outside force pulling the strings results in some of the best parts of The Cabin in the Woods, while also adding some real depth and mystery to proceedings. It's a neat twist on what we've come to expect from films such as this one and it's nearly impossible not to immensely enjoy all of this. If anything, it's a shame that there's not even more of it! The last twenty minutes or so is complete chaos and some are sure to find it all a bit too silly. A cameo falls flat (it feels far too similar to another they made recently) and the ending is a mixture of "Huh?" and "WTF?"
Performances vary, although it should come as no surprise to learn that Chris Hemsworth shines. His American accent is as flawless as the English one used in THOR, and this particular role demonstrates what a diverse actor he is. The stunning Anna Hutchison also does a decent enough job, although both she and Kristen Connolly aren't given the material they needed in order to give the film the strong female character it could have done with (unusual for Whedon). The latter is clearly meant to fill this role, but simply doesn't. Jesse Williams is forgettable, while Fran Kranz's pothead will leave you wanting to put your head through the nearest wall. Some will undoubtedly find his ramblings and antics amusing, but it's hard to imagine either why or how. The cast is filled out with a handful of good supporting performances, although the always reliable Richard Jenkins stands out more than anyone else. In terms of special effects, The Cabin in the Woods is surprisingly CGI heavy and it mostly works apart from a few scenes here and there.
Undeniably fun at times and baffling at others, The Cabin in the Woods is a so-so comedy, a mediocre horror and a genius idea all crammed into one film. Worth checking out, but far from essential.
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