Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Review: The Cabin in the Woods

Rating: 15
Duration: 95 mins

Buffy and Firefly creator Joss Whedon is the brain behind this modern horror that picks apart everything fans are accustomed with, and offers a very contemporary, yet playfully welcomed edge. As well as the reliable skills of Whedon, Drew Goddard co-writes the script and assumes control as director of what can only be described as a conventionally familiar, but original take on the genre.

With both having a reputable history in fantasy and science fiction, it's perhaps safe to assume that some of these elements are bound to weave their way into proceedings. The set-up is common and simple: a group of youngster go away to a cabin (in the woods) for a weekend of promiscuous frivolity. These conventions are palpable as it consciously acknowledges said clich├ęs that have been tirelessly recycled over the years. It's this awareness and self ridicule that makes the first half of the film mightily fun and entertaining. Combined with a witty and often amusing script, the initial reveal offers an intriguing direction as to where the film will ultimately go. Yes, the film contains a reveal (very early on, in fact), and not a twist. It's this element that (even though shown in the trailer) makes a Cabin review hard to convey without succumbing to potential spoilers.

As far as constructing a typical horror movie goes, Goddard directs and includes exactly what's necessary with tongue firmly in cheek. Exposition is fine, as are the amount of scares, unease and gore you'd expect; it never offers too much, nor too little.

To say Cabin is a 'game changer' is a term devaluing such a meaning. Sure, Whedon and Goddard gift us something very different, ultimately original and never before seen in the horror genre, but to deem it revolutionary is an overstatement. In fact, it actually adheres as a social commentary on something else (and that 'something' shall remain unnamed); plausible in the sense that because it's not actually a typically scary film, drifts away from horror in terms of its focus. It's certainly one to take note of, but feels more like the beginning of a new breed of genre hybrid that'll no doubt become as saturated as the shaky-cam a few years down the line.

The second half of the film intentionally feels detached in the sense that the story progresses in a contrived nature, as the latter part of the film tends to underwhelm more than the strong first. However, the interesting development will keep audiences engaged in what is a uniquely satisfying movie that deserves  to be seen to be appreciated and contextualised.

Cabin is a rather funny and somewhat whimsical film that, with gruesome depictions of horror, proves experimental genre splices can work to one's advantage if executed correctly. The writing is spot on, as is the tone of the acting and narrative, all culminating in a piece that will reinvent, if not completely redefine.

VERDICT: It isn't quite as clever as it thinks it is, but The Cabin in the Woods pulls down its pants and takes a proverbial dump over the horror genre. It's a film worth exploring for its initiative and for capitalising on a think-outside-the-box strategy with its alternative intuition, as opposed to following every other formulaic clone out there.