The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 9:14 PM | Posted in


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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 9.2/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 10/10 (Full Score)

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012) - Drew Goddard

"Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen. If you think you know this story, think again."

I do know this story, formulaic and cliche beyond all comprehension. All slasher films have followed this path. Ever since Carpenter's Halloween, slasher cults like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th all suffer from a "Been there, done that" tone. It is a series of differently crafted chocolate cakes in a cake factory. In the end, they are all the same. Then one year director Wes Craven decided to satirize the slasher genre with his own cult classic Scream, a film so successful that it spawned three sequels. The most recent entry, Scream 4, came out last year. Now we are given another film that claims to be self-aware, giving us the poster tagline "You think you know the story." Fair enough. I do know the story and I am ready to think again. However, when I walked into the theater expecting a strawberry cake out of the chocolate cakes, I was given a strawberry cake covered with a layer of lemon, sprinkled with Oreos, topped with a cherry, and assisted with twenty cupcakes with each one having its own flavor. In other words, I did not expect what I was given in the end. Nevertheless, that was one delicious dessert feast.

The Cabin in the Woods follows two technicians, Richard Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Steve Hadley (Bradley Whitford) preparing for an unknown operation, one out of several taking place around the world. On the other side of the narrative, five college students -- Dana (Kristen Connelly), Curt (Chris Hemsworth), Jules (Anna Hutchinson), Marty (Fran Kranz), and Holden (Jesse Williams) -- drive out for a vacation to the cabin in the woods, while the two technicians keep an eye on them using hidden cameras. Despite its context being "stalkerish," at least the film already steps in as what Spill.com calls "a game-changer."

Jenkins and Whitford play a great comedy duo, comparable to Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones from Men In Black. Despite the vulgar language, their characters are undeniably fun and exciting to follow. Unlike the majority of the character groups in slasher films, all five college students here pulled off terrific performances. Chris Hemsworth, previously seen in Thor, convincingly compressed his dominating stance into a minuscule student with less intimidation. All characters are fully loaded with witty humor, cleverly written. However, the supreme performance in The Cabin in the Woods is from Kristen Connelly, an actress who I have never seen before. Furthermore, before I began writing this review, she did not have her own Wikipedia article. Even though its movies in general are mediocre, the year of 2012 is a showcase for new unfamiliar faces. First the entire cast in Chronicle, and now this. Connelly is sensational. Her facial expressions convey better than words, a unique delivery that most actresses these days either are unable to do or choose not to. For a long time, I have not expressed sympathy for a female character screaming in a horror film. Connelly here, as attractive as she is persuading, delivers one of my favorite female leads in a horror movie since Sidney Prescott in Scream and Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Fran Kanz, in simple words, is the new Woody Harrelson. If Harrelson is Jerry Lewis, then Kranz is Jim Carrey. The generality of the script's shrewd dialogue belong to him, presenting a spectrum of jokes, making Cabin in the Woods one of the most entertainingly funny horror movies ever, even better than Fright Night.

The film, despite its entertaining factor, is excessively violent. There is blood. A lot of blood. Following the tradition of emphasizing gore and violence to scare, The Cabin in the Woods does not shy away. However, being unique and aesthetic, the context of the violence bears an engaging element different from everything else we have ever seen. The exhilarating rush of the film drives the ridicule of everything else into an adrenaline-charged piece that helps us remember the reason why we love watching horror movies in the first place.

Now for the story. It is extremely arduous to explain the power of the narrative without spoiling it. All I can say is it is one of the smartest yet weirdest movies I have ever seen, and I mean that in a fantastic way. In daily jargon, here is a brief response to the story: "Out of all the things you expect to happen in a horror movie, the things that happen in The Cabin in the Woods are the *last* things you will ever guess."

In conclusion, The Cabin in the Woods is one of the biggest surprises I have ever seen in movie history. However, surprises are usually based on our expectations being exceedingly low and then we realize how remarkable the movie is. This film's element of surprise is more than that. It is bold, pushing to develop a new dimension to cinematic horror. It is a Tetris game demanding the game itself to be played in 3D. It is a Pac-Man game that demands fire breathing as an ability. In a way, the film is a masterpiece. It fluently combines humor with suspense, a hybrid of everything we love about horror and entertainment. In a positive manner, the initial reaction of this film boils down to seven words: What the f*** did I just watch? What The Cabin in the Woods did to the horror genre is identical to what Shrek did to fantasy folktales. It takes everything we were familiar with, puts it all in a blender, and serves us the final product in a spittoon. Ever had dinner served that way before? After watching The Cabin in the Woods, I can proudly say, "Bon appetite."


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