The Cabin in the Woods (Lionsgate)
Rated R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity.
Starring Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian White, Amy Acker.
Written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard.
Directed by Drew Goddard.
I've never been a big fan of the horror movie genre. My goal as a child was to never be afraid, so why get scared on purpose? Whatever it is that gets your hair standing on end, there's a new kind of horror movie coming out this weekend, and it could reboot the entire genre. It's called The Cabin in the Woods, and trust me, it's not what you'd expect from a horror movie.
Like many slasher/horror movies of the past 40 years, our story begins with the obligatory set up: A bunch of stupid young people prepare to "get away from it all" by visiting a secluded retreat, as ominous foreshadowing ensues. They group consists of (somewhat) virginal Dana (Kristen Connelly), her best friend and wild child Jules (Anna Hutchison), Jules' athlete boyfriend hunk Curt (Liam Hemsworth), fellow athlete and possible love interest for Dana Holden (Jesse Williams) and the lovable pot head/philosopher Marty (Fran Kranz).
Meanwhile, as the young college students are passing through many of the foreshadowing events that accompany so many other horror movies (e.g., an old guy who warns them about the mysterious events surrounding the cabin in the woods), a corporate/governmental organization appears to be monitoring the group's every movement. The watchdog group is a team of techno-nerds, headed by Sitterson and Hadley (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford), a couple of regular "Joes" who wear pocket protectors and hold office pools.
I won't go into much detail about why the kids are under surveillance or what the corporate team is up to, but as the kids get to the ominous, secluded cabin, they soon discover bits and pieces of its dark past, which leads them to summon a family of zombies that proceeds to slaughter them, one by one.
That's about all I'm going to divulge about the plot behind The Cabin in the Woods, because to say more would ruin the incredible twists and turns that await.
Suffice to say that the ending of The Cabin in the Woods (perhaps slightly disappointing, depending on your mood) is incredible, bloody, and HILARIOUS.
The script, penned by Joss Whedon (writer/director the soon-to-be-released Avengers megahit) and debut director Drew Goddard (the guy behind works like TV's Buffy, Angel and Alias series, along with some Lost episodes) is brilliant, clever, and often hysterical, yet there are many scary, gory images to keep the movie in the "horror" category, despite all the belly laughs. Goddard also wrote Cloverfield, if that gives you an idea of what kind of creepy stuff you might see. Whatever it is that goes "bump" in the night for you - The Cabin in the Woods has just what the "scare" doctor ordered.
The Cabin in the Woods is one of the most unique horror movies I've ever seen, and definitely one of the best films I've seen this year. Interestingly enough, the movie was filmed more than 3 years ago, but was held for release because it was part of the MGM bankruptcy/Lionsgate sale. One thing is for sure: It was worth the wait.
The Cabin in the Woods definitely earns its R rating, so please leave the pre-teens and younger at home.
The opening title was scary enough for me.