With “Cabin,” two geek gurus craft a horror movie primer
It’s a scenario familiar to any horror movie aficionado.
Five college students – a handsome hunk (Chris Hemsworth), a perky blonde (Anna Hutchinson), a shy redhead (Kristen Connolly), a sort-of scholarly jock (Jesse Williams) and a wisecracking stoner (Fran Kranz) — head to a creepy old cabin for a weekend of partying.
They swim. They swill beer. They have sex. And they inadvertently awaken an ancient evil that threatens to destroy them all.
It sounds like your typical slasher flick. But “The Cabin in the Woods” is far from typical.
Much like the criminally underrated “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil,” “Cabin” puts an exciting new spin on a time-honored format: the same promiscuous kids-in-peril/serial killer story that’s been popular since the 1970s. It’s a furiously funny, gleefully gory horror movie primer, with such a clever twist that I hesitate to give any more clues than necessary.
Suffice it to say that this cabin is far from isolated, and that circumstances aren’t exactly what they seem.
Best known for his work on “Cloverfield” and “Lost,” Drew Goddard takes the leap from screenwriter to director with the help of co-writer/producer Joss Whedon, the geek guru behind “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Dollhouse,” “Firefly” and “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.”
Their combined nerd cred serves them well in “Cabin,” whose whipsmart script and crackling dialogue makes every moment a giddy, scary delight. Sure, there’s still plenty of blood shed, but it’s in the service of a greater story.
The cast, a combination of fresh young faces and seasoned character actors, handles this material beautifully.
Former “Dollhouse” cast member Fran Kranz is particularly strong as motormouth Marty, whose pot-fueled paranoid fantasies may have a basis in reality. Up-and-comer Anna Hutchison serves as a likeable female foil, and Chris Hemsworth, who already hinted at his comedic chops in “Thor,” makes the most of his screen time here as well.
There are other readily recognizable actors involved in “Cabin,” but I’d rather let audience members to discover them on their own.
“The Cabin in the Woods” is, honestly, the kind of movie you have to see for yourself. I could talk for hours about “Cabin’s” clever character development, quirky running gags and ingenious twists on tired tropes, but it wouldn’t be as fun or as meaningful as actually watching the movie.
Sorry, folks. You won’t find any spoilers here.
Instead, I’ll simply share this two-sentence review by a colllege-age audience member, spoken as the end credits were rolling:
“That was the … greatest … movie … of all time…. I have no idea what I just watched.”
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