Review: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Director: Drew Goddard
Screenwriters: Drew Goddard, Joss Whedon
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchinson, Fran Kanz, Jesse Williams
Genres: Horror, Comedy
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use, and some sexuality/nudity
Release Dates: 4/13/12 (Wide Theatrical), 9/18/12 (Disc/Streaming)
Where to Watch: Hulu
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

In case you can’t tell from some of my reviews, I was on a bit of a horror kick. Maybe being trapped inside my house made me want to feel even more uncomfortable? Or maybe it’s because I’d realized my newfound love for the genre, and not just in recent films. I knew very little about the 2012 film The Cabin in the Woods, whose cast includes a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth, other than that there was a unique twist (of which I was fortunately unaware).

It is difficult to describe the plot of this film without giving too much (or anything) away; it’s best to even avoid plot summaries, including the ones that are supposedly spoiler-free, as they may give away some things that I was glad I did not know prior to viewing the film. I will, however, say that the plot involves a group of five youngsters who fit specific stereotypes — a jock, slut, nerd, virgin, and stoner — who head to…you guess it, a cabin in the woods. (These stereotype terms aren’t my own; these are the terms used in the film). And, they seem to fit those stereotypes very nicely, thanks to solid casting, including Kristen Connolly as the virgin/awkward woman, who is actually the most sensible out of all of them. While Hemsworth is in only a handful of scenes, it is evident that he was destined to be a movie star (which the director, Drew Goddard, apparently noticed as well).

What’s particularly unique about the film is that it both manages to avoid horror cliches while simultaneously making fun of and engaging in them — you’ll understand what I mean when you see it. And yet, I found some of it too crazy to be believable, although movies in this genre typically strain credulity. In addition, the execution of the narrative isn’t always solid, although I found the climactic and post-climactic moments to be the most entertaining and visually impressive.

The ending is especially anxiety-inducing, and the final shot was very shocking (in the best way). The fact that this movie takes such enormous risks mostly pays off in the end, although it stumbled a bit on the way.

B+

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