Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods

Monster Menagerie

Rated: R  Bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity
Release Date: April 13, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 45 mins

Director: Drew Goddard
Writers:  Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard
Cast: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford

SYNOPSIS: Five college friends head to a cabin in the woods for a relaxing jaunt, unaware that the entire area is controlled by unknown forces.

REVIEW: Drew Goddard, writer of Cloverfield and episodes of Lost and Alias, moves into the director's chair for the first time to bring to grisly life the shared vision that he and Joss Whedon (Serenity
put to paper. Much of the attention for Whedon may be on the quickly upcoming superhero fare, The Avengers, but he can successfully write for multiple genres including science fiction, action, fantasy, and horror. 
Five collage friends find themselves with the opportunity to get away to a cousin's cabin in the woods. Consisting of Curt (Chris Hemsworth, Thor), his girlfriend Jules (Anna Hutchison, Go Girls), Curt's burnout friend Marty (Fran Kranz, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules), recently dumped Dana (Kristen Connolly, The Happening) and fresh face and new friend Holden (Jesse Williams, Brooklyn's Finest). As they settle into their new surroundings in the pine forested and crystal laked locale, they have no idea that the entire area is wired for sight and sound. In fact, an entire corporate facility is built under the area to observe and control a more sinister operation.

Whedon and Goddard bring to the big screen a high concept suspense horror thriller that hasn't been seen in a long time. Sure, The Cabin in the Woods has all of the commercial earmarks of a classic slasher in the woods horror flick, but it tips all the normal genre conventions on end. It all starts at the opening titles as the camera pans through a bloody series of brutal cave etchings, simple drawings, carvings, and Renaissance paintings. Then the audience is faced with corporate stiffs Sitterson (Richard Jenkins, Hall Pass) and Hadley (Bradley Whitford, The West Wing) in a vast sterile corporate complex discussing the work they had to complete over the weekend, competing with a rival Japanese firm. You quickly start to question whether you are in the correct movie theater at all, checking your ticket stub to verify the theater number. But then the 70s-style movie title bangs onto the screen to shock you and verify what movie you are attending, as well as defining the tone for the rest of the film.

All of the stereotypes are present - the athlete, the intellectual, the burnout, the easy girl, and the virginal prude. Whedon and Goddard do, however, strike a delicate balance between the traditional constructs and almost new high concepts fresh to the 
genre. In the manner of The Evil Dead, Goddard approaches the cabin with a low sweeping camera angle and blows open a living room floor seated cellar door with the inferred dare that the group of friends check out the lower level - with the help of the men in the control room. Once there, the drinking and smoking group looks through an array of strange artifacts, keepsakes, antiques, and diaries, eventually setting loose a quartet of redneck zombies bent on their immediate destruction. From there the story pits corporate controllers against youngsters against zombie killers, all for some mysterious purpose that eludes us for some time.

The mighty Chris Hemsworth strips off his regal vestments, reduced to a normal college athlete with charm and blue eyes. Kristen Connelly starts off as an unsure sidekick and quickly grows into a a woman not to be trifled with. The standouts of the film are Fran Kranz' burnout conspiracy theorist Marty whose every uttered word is comedy gold, and Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford as the senior operations officers Sitterson and Hadley, respectively, who don't take their classified work too seriously. The other standouts are the monsters that roam in and under the forest.

Not much more can be said about The Cabin in the Woods without giving away too much. Funny, witting, suspenseful and self-aware, this film is an intelligent twist on an all-too-common formula. Some fans of horror may be put off by the concept and plot, but I came away from the darkened screening auditorium with a smile on my face and kudos on my lips for seeing something fresh. This film is a four out of five in my book, but I tempered it down a 1/2 a bucket for the simple fact that the plot my be too off-putting to be enjoyable for all patrons. But in any case, I found out where all of the monsters go when they are not lurking under the bed or hiding in the closet. 

WORTH: Matinee or DVD

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