Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jessie Williams, Richard Jenkins, Brad Whitford
What do you get when you partner two of the most respected genre writers of their generation on an old school/meta/horror-comedy, gleefully defying genre conventions with joyous abandon? You get The Cabin In The Woods.
First time director & veteran screenwriter Drew Goddard teamed up with Joss Whedon to write The Cabin In The Woods with Whedon also doubling as the film’s producer. It’s was not the first time the pair had worked with each other as Goddard had previously scripted for Whedon’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel. It is clear immediately how well the two gel together as a writing partnership, turning the cliched opening to a horror movie on its head, from a moody panning shot of archaic illustrations set to ominous music broken by a jump-cut to two office workers discussing the mundanity of their daily work lives and the slightest hint of the greater picture for the movie only to have the blood red scrawl of the title break the scene in humorously irreverent fashion, it’s clear from the off we are dealing with a very different take on the established horror formula in The Cabin In The Woods.
The thing that really sets The Cabin In The Wood aside from its contemporaries is its originality, it is fearless in its pursuit of smashing and making fun of established genre stereotypes. The slasher movie clichés of the jock, bimbo and burnout character archetypes are playfully switched around in clever and subversive ways that can’t help but raise a knowing grin in the initiated and going even further to prove that Goddard & Whedon know their subject matter well and how to push the buttons of their target audience. There are playful nods to numerous horror movie characters & sub-genre tropes, the titular Cabin being a nod to The Evil Dead, in a scene where we are taken on a ride of various monster held by the shadowy organisation we see obvious nods to the likes of Hellraiser, IT, J-horror spookiness seen in such films as Ringu & Ju-on and zombies that wouldn’t be out of place in the movies of George Romero.
The cast all gamely give entertaining performances. We get a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth as an genre defying academic jock, House of Cards alumni Kristen Connolly as the heroine of the piece and film stealing performances from the ever excellent Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford as the shadowy corporate stooges orchestrating the ensuing bloodbath from afar with added Amy Acker & Sigourney Weaver to boot. It has to be said, you really do get a sense that all the cast involved in this film are having a ball, and who wouldn’t with the material on offer?
The Cabin In The Woods is an original, irreverent, genre-defying and above all, fun comedy-horror flick, its success owing largely to the writing talents of Goddard & Whedon and the performances of the cast delivering the material well. If you are a diehard horror fan you will certainly appreciate what’s on offer here with this blood-soaked love letter to the genre from two masters of their craft. Highly Recommended.