The Cabin In The Woods review

Banana Rating: 4 out of 5

Joss Whe­don has made a good career out of being a smarty pants. From Buffy the Vam­pire Slayer, through Angel, on to the can­celled before its time Fire­fly, he’s cre­ated some pretty mem­or­able genre telly.

If you like see­ing hor­ror or sci­ence fic­tion clichés being turned on their head, and char­ac­ters who can crack a wise at twenty paces, he’s pretty much your go-to guy.

And so it is with The Cabin in the Woods. Fans of Joss Whe­don will lap it up. Even people who’ve never heard of him or seen his shows, will (or should) lap it up, as it’s really quite dif­fer­ent to most hor­ror movies that have come before it.

It’s closest com­pan­ion is prob­ably Scream. But in that, the char­ac­ters were fully aware of the hor­ror in-jokes as they happened. In The Cabin in the Woods, the char­ac­ters are, for the most part, in the dark.

It starts off in typ­ical fash­ion. Five young col­lege stu­dents are hook­ing up for a week­end of fun in an old cabin in the woods, which belongs to the cousin of one of the students.

It's not that scary, but...

They set off in an RV, driv­ing head first into hor­ror cliché num­ber one: a derel­ict old gas sta­tion which has seen bet­ter days. Is it deser­ted? Seems that way, until hor­ror cliché num­ber two appears: the crotchety, weather-beaten old man, chew­ing tobacco and warn­ing them of pos­sible dangers ahead.

Nat­ur­ally, they ignore him, and… I’ll say no more about the plot, as you can prob­ably guess the rest. Or can you? That’s the beauty. You can’t. Pos­sibly if you main­lined all of Whe­don’s shows, you might have an ink­ling. If you’ve seen the trailer, like I have, you’ll have a pretty good idea, as unfor­tu­nately it’s a trailer that reveals a bit too much.

Des­pite that, I still enjoyed the hell out of it. Thank­fully, the end­ing packs in a whole bunch of stuff that was miss­ing from the trailer, so even though the premise has, up to a point, been spoiled, there’s still enough intrigue to pull you along through the movie towards it’s denouement.

In skew­er­ing hor­ror ste­reo­types, Whe­don’s char­ac­ters adhere closely to those of earlier hor­ror films. There’s the jock, the sex mad blonde, the smart one, the stoner etc. Whilst there’s a good, under­ly­ing reason for all this, unfor­tu­nately it doesn’t make them any more inter­est­ing than the ste­reo­types he’s spoof­ing. It’s prob­ably the film’s one weakness.

As a res­ult the film has a tend­ency to drag in the first half hour or so. But all is soon for­given, and there comes a point where the films kicks into high gear and never really lets up, pil­ing delight upon delight.

For a hor­ror film, it’s not that scary. Or even that tense. But it’s clever enough, and dif­fer­ent enough, and just plain enter­tain­ing enough, that ulti­mately it never seems to matter.