FILM REVIEW THE CABIN IN THE WOODS 2012
Writer, producer, Joss Whedon’s very original take on the slasher pic turns into his very original take on the monster movie, and then into his original riff on the Satanic cult movie and then goes off the scale to turn into something very original and outlandish.
The fun of this movie lies in how it plays on your seen it all before expectations and then takes a radical detour. A group of teenagers including a drug-fiend, a couple of sex-obsessed lovers, a nerd and a virginal good girl next door go off to an isolated woodland cottage for a summer holiday. This runs like a standard Friday The 13th scenario, so you expect the local rednecks to be serial killers. The encounter with a garage owner on route suggests as much.
But something is different even here. There seems to be a group of IT technicians monitoring the events from some kind of secret bunker. The large group of scientists talk of serving a demonic over-lord and seem to be competing with other teams conducting similar operations around the World.
The teens don’t seem to be figuring out the clues left for them quickly enough, so the scientists manipulate them with pheromones and chemicals, but the stoned lad with them is too intoxicated by his own stimulants to be affected.
As the teens finally go into the cellar under the cottage they find a room filled with all manner of weird artefact, strange dolls, a Hell-raiser style puzzle box, and an old diary. The watching technicians place bets on which artefact the teens will use and unwittingly summon their doom – each apparently unleashes a different kind of demonic monster. The teens read from an old diary, and unleash a trio of zombies from unmarked graves outside the cabin. The story now moves into Evil Dead territory and the teens are picked off one by one until the survivors find their way into the high tech base and unwittingly unleash all the demonic entities at once. The range of monsters and special effects in the closing twenty minutes of carnage is fantastic, and there are a few surprises to come even on top of this.
A fabulously inventive movie that really breaks the rules and rewrites the way horror can be presented. Its cast are relatively unknown, apart from a late cameo by Sigourney Weaver. Fran Kranz’s Marty is a brilliant creation, taking drugs throughout and inadvertently immunizing himself from the drugs allowed by the authoritarian Satanists. He is clearly the film’s most likable character with some great reaction comments on the carnage erupting around himself.
A terrific film taking us from the traditional doomed teenagers by the lake to something far more apocalyptic and grand scale in spectacle, and often with its tongue deeply planted in its cheek too.