First of all, holy crap.
Second of all, this is going to be a very difficult review to write. The less you know about Cabin in the Woods, the better off you are. I would suggest that if you haven’t seen the trailer, don’t run off to see it. I won’t even post it at the end of this review in an effort to help you avoid temptation.
So what can I say? This is a comedy with serious horror elements and it’s very very Joss Whedon. Like he’s done with so much else, he takes what we think we know about horror films, the tropes we have come to expect, the stereotypes we’ve all grown tired of, and throws everything into a blender until it’s unrecognizable. Even the creepy guy at the abandoned gas station becomes more than just the typical harbinger of doom.
While you do not need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of horror films to enjoy Cabin in the Woods, the more you know about horror movies and horror movie monsters, the more of a kick you’ll get out of the movie as a whole.
The movie is stolen by Bradley Whitford, Josh Lyman in West Wing, and Richard Jenkins who consistently steals any scene he’s in but you’ll most likely recognize him as Nathaniel Fisher Sr. in Six Feet Under. I can’t really go into what they do and who they are, but needless to say I found myself looking forward to the moment they’d be back on screen.
That isn’t to say that the other parts of the movie didn’t work. The five post-grad coeds who make their way to said cabin in the woods all do a great job portraying their designated characters, who are more subversive than you’d expect. Kristen Connolly as virginal Dana and Fran Kranz as stoner Marty are particularly good. The film was shot in 2009, well before Chris Hemsworth would become better known as Thor, and although the movie doesn’t show its age, this character is a bit of a nod to the delay in release.
And I think that’s about it. I cannot say more without shedding light on all the great twists and turns and grace notes that make this movie so gosh darned enjoyable. But see it. You’ll never watch a horror flick the same way again…