‘Cabin in the Woods’ Review: One of the Smartest Horror Films in Years

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In recent years, movie studios have pumped out forgettable horror movies every other weekend to attract a variety of audiences for one thing: their money. But not Cabin in the Woods, a film that knows how the system works, and achieves not a new camera trick or an adaptation of a classic from half way around the world, but a genuinely original horror film. That on its own means more than every cheap scare tactic you witnessed in a horror movie in the last year combined.

The truth is, Cabin in the Woods is a horror fan’s dream. To summarize the plot any farther than the previews have done for you would be a disservice to the incredibly intelligent minds at work here. The surprises you will experience as the film progresses will astonish and likely delight you.

Similar to the way that Scream plays with the cliches of horror films in the past, Cabin in the Woods is extremely aware of what it is and what it could have been in the hands of another writer. Not surprisingly, at least some credit of the script goes to Joss Whedon, a legend in “nerd world” and the director of a little movie coming out soon called The Avengers. But it also manages to be really scary in some moments, including when its playing on cliches. However, if you’re not cowering in your seat, you’re laughing. The sense of humor injecting into the film is sharp with tons of meta jokes for horror fans to chew on.

I do have two small nitpicks that I have to address. As with most horror films that include a cast of mostly teens, the acting is nothing to write home about. It isn’t quite as bad as a lot of other films, but there isn’t too much meat to the characters since they are meant to be cliche stereotypes. But that is part of the fun, despite missing some opportunities for even more humor.

My other nitpick is the very end of the film. A big theme throughout is the dangers of total control, and the final few seconds don’t really support that in a positive way, leaving you with an annoyingly bleak ending after what was a ridiculous and very fun film. It just didn’t seem to fit.

But other than that, Cabin in the Woods is a revelation in the genre. Horror fans and casual fans alike will find things to enjoy in this funny, scary, and overall wild ride. Simply wonderful. Grade: A-

 

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