"They made us choose how we die."
The Cabin in the Woods (2012) is writer/director Drew Goddard's first film and it's also co-written by television powerhouse Joss Whedon.
This film seems like the basic setup you've seen over and over: a group of college friends spending the weekend in an abandoned cabin in the woods, but there's actually a whole lot more to it than that.
[Let me start by stating that if you want to fully enjoy this film, you should stop reading now and just go watch it cold turkey for the full experience.]
This film is a horror fan's wet dream. (I should know). It's packed with references to every decent horror trope and monster and has whole scenes that tribute great horror films that came before, most evidently of course is The Evil Dead (1981). AND it doesn't stop there, some of these horror tropes are not from classic films; their either from mythology and lore with a darker spin or there's also a lot here taken from Mr. H.P. Lovecraft.
I don't think there's anything I can find wrong with this film. The cliché and corniness of this film is intentional, there are a couple of script convienences like "last minute talks" before people die and things but most of them are intentional setups used for jokes (like half this film) and therefore completely acceptable. I think the real "bad" is that someone actually attempted to make an Evil Dead remake AFTER this film was made! That kind of saddens me and means the point to this one is lost on some people.
There is a bright future ahead for the man who made this film as his first feature. This film is absolutely genius, hilarious, smart and it's enjoyable. I don't think there's anything more you could want in a film. This film masterfully blends humor and horror (my favorites) in a way that makes it look like nothing (sometimes in the same scene!) That really shows how good the director is.
I love the way the film cuts between the two seemingly completely unrelated stories for the first half of the film and then as the viewer slowly is figuring out how they're connected the stories overlap and connect more and more. This is setup is pure genius and works very, very well.
Another great thing about this film is the rewatchability. When I first walked out of the theater after watching this film for the first time, I wondered if there was any rewatchability at all. Considering a lot of the amazing-ness of this film lies in the surprise of the first time you see it and the mystery as you're figuring it all out. But I've seen this film quite a few times now and I gotta say there's a lot in this film to warrant plenty of rewatches.
And I couldn't finish this review without mentioning how much I love the writing. The dialogue may turn some people off, but I grew up watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer so let me start by saying how glad I am that Joss Whedon has finally fully transitioned to working on film. The dialogue in this film is very Whedon-esque; super witty, fast, smart and completely joke-riddled. I absolutely love it. And other than dialogue this film's writing is pretty genius because it doesn't just stop at taking something we know and putting a twist on it, instead it takes that twist as far as it possibly can. That takes a lot of courage, and shows a whole lot of writing skill.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012) is both a love letter and a wake up call for the horror film industry. And I think it is completely sucessful in everything that it attempts, so much so that this was one of my favorite films of 2012. I'm really not sure how anyone can make the same old horror clichés in a world where this film also now exists?
After watching this original and fresh take on the horror genre and a completely unique spin on the concept of Evil Dead we see how a hot young group of filmmaker's Evil Dead (2013) remake stacks up on 31 Nights of Macabre Movies.
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