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The Cabin in the Woods Review
By Darrin Jones / April 13

Ingredients: If you liked the originality of the Adjustment Bureau, the over-the-top gore of Slither, and the horror comedy of Evil Dead II, you will like this movie. And I most certainly did.

The Cabin in the Woods is a monster-movie that was co-written by Joss Whedon. Just let that sink in for a second. For anyone not familiar with Joss Whedon’s writing he is a master of working in realistic young characters, a mixture of comedy and horror, and working in a laundry list of monsters. And he brings all his talent to this one. The Cabin in the Woods poses as your standard monster flick, what with five college kids going up to an out-of-the-way cabin for a relaxing weekend only to be ripped apart by some horrible creature but it immediately breaks the mold with the revelation that the cabin and the situations are all fabricated by some hidden government facility. The film opens with two technicians played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whiteford casually talking about their home lives and the upcoming  horror show that’s about to happen. What makes The Cabin in the Woods far surpass some of its B-grade predecessors is that the characters are realistic and likable. I cannot stress enough how likable characters can make or break how the audience views the upcoming gruesome deaths. Dana (as played by Kristen Connolly) is the quiet bookworm girl. Curt (Chris Hemsworth) is the handsome athletic nice guy. Jules (Anna Hutchison) is the free spirited friend of Dana and Curt’s girlfriend. Holden (Jesse Williams) is Curt’s football playing scholarly friend. And finally Marty (Fran Kranz), the pot smoking socialist, steals the show as the only character able to realize they are being manipulated somehow. The group has to figure out how to escape their forced horror scenario and why they are being killed.

Not since the Scream series has a movie so brilliantly poked fun at horror movie cliches. While Scream was a jab at the slasher franchise, The Cabin in the Woods sets its sights on monster-movie genre. Every cliche is thrown in and explained why it’s there. Jules, who before going to the cabin was an intelligent loving friend and girlfriend, is transformed into a hot blonde bimbo that’s ready for loving anywhere because the government technicians are pumping chemicals into the air. Why do they foolishly decide to separate when they know they shouldn’t? Chemicals again. Why do they drop their weapons immediately after using them? Why can they never call for help or just leave the horrid cabin? All of it is thrown in and the explanations are hilarious. And there’s just something awe-inspiring in seeing two middle-aged technicians hammering on buttons and switches or running down hallways to rewire electrical systems all to ensure that five college students die horribly; like some evil re-imagining of the Trueman Show.

For horror movie fans, The Cabin in the Woods is a much needed improvement to the genre. The comedy is earnest and actually funny. The gore and violence add to the story instead of slow it down. And best of all, Whedon has managed to work in a few actors that fans of his tv shows Buffy and Angel might find familiar as well as the most monster cameos I have seen since Wax Works. I was nearly rolling in the aisles at the big reveal of all the possible monster-movie scenarios the technicians had to choose from including Hellraiser, The Strangers, Dawn of the Dead, and many more. The Cabin in the Woods is a terrific smart approach to a genre that’s been desperate for new ideas and I highly recommend it. Mister Whedon, you still go it.

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