Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard, 2012) Review

This is Cabin Fever Worth Catching

If you are in the unfortunate position of having seen the trailer for this little ‘horror’ flick, then you may already know too much.  Erase it from your memory; stop reading this review and book a ticket, safe in the knowledge that this cabin is full of surprises that defy the clichés.  But before you do stop reading, be aware that I will reveal nothing of what is in store if you choose to see this film.

It all starts with the typical set up familiar from a thousand other horror films.  Five college kids head off the grid to find a secluded cabin belonging to a cousin.  It’s the perfect place for a bit of sex, drugs, swimming in a lake and getting picked off one by one in grisly ways.  So far, so Evil Dead, Wrong Turn and Cabin Fever.

But right from the opening scene, there’s something different about this Cabin in the Woods.  Who are the corporate types in the opening scene and where do they come into the plot?  Why is there a man on a roof spying on the college kids as they set off on their adventure?  And how come these kids aren’t quite the usual stereotypes we expect in this kind of film?

To say any more could ruin the experience for readers of this review.  But what can be said is that this film is an often hilarious white-knuckle ride.  Horror fans will rejoice at the old school set up and the vicious violent deaths while all viewers will enjoy the comedy, the surprises round every corner and the clever subverting of genre conventions.

The cast do a good job but it’s the mostly smart ideas and the clever writing that really make this stick out.  Hemsworth can deliver handsome jock while sleepwalking, while Kristen Connelly and Fran Kranz ably tackle virginal sweet girl and stoner shtick respectively.  There might only be the odd surprise in terms of who buys it next and who will make it to the final frames but what will surprise are the regular deviations from the main plot to the sinister activities of the corporate types from the opening scene.

And if you don’t enjoy the brilliant and hilarious bloodbath finale, you’ll need to look long and hard to find something else that can satisfy your horror needs.  The final reveal may lack the surprise hoped for from the rest of the smart set up but it’s a minor complaint when the ride is this much fun.

Verdict:  It’s fast-paced, fresh, frightening and ridiculously funny!  But be warned: be careful what you read/see before you go in.  Blessed is s/he that knows next to nothing about what is in store.

4 out of 5 stars

Released Friday 13th April in the UK.