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Movie Review: The Cabin In The Woods



By  Justin Carreiro     8:44 PM    Labels:,,, 
Horror movies are a guilty pleasure of mine. Half of them are innovative, positively scary and could become cult hits in my movie collection. The rest, on the other hand, are overtly cheesy, slapstick or even painful to watch all the way to the end. You can never tell what to expect when you head to a theatre and sometimes I've been letdown. 

On today's post, I'm going to be writing a review about a horror movie that has most recently premiered in theatres last Friday. I had high hopes for this movie - did it meet my expectations (or at least the bare minimum)? It's the horror-comedy surprise hit: The Cabin in the Woods!


The Premise: We've heard the legend before. A couple of teenagers and/or college students head into the woods to party and enjoy a fun weekend in their lakeside cabin. They experience a little too much fun (i.e. sex, drugs, and alcohol), only to realize a mysterious and dangerous threat is lurking in the woods ready to pick them off one-by-one. The Cabin in the Woods revitalizes the familiar format and adds a new spin to it that could bring new light to a well-known urban legend.



Planning on having a relaxing weekend, five students head off in their RV to a mysterious cabin in the woods. The group consists of alpha-leader jock Curt (Hemsworth), flirty Jules (Hutchinson), athletic intellectual Holden (McCrea), not-so-innocent Dana (Connolly) and perpetual stoner Marty (Kranz). After some swimming, drinking and a provocative game of truth-or-dare (including a strange make-out session with a wolf - yes, you heard me), the door to the cabin's cellar mysteriously opens on its own. Much to the dismay of Marty, the group heads deep into the cellar to explore the antiques that remain from the cabin's original owners. After reading from an ancient diary and reciting a few Latin incantations, zombies begin to crawl from the ground and are now on the hunt to finish off the students before morning.



Another interesting point to this story is the unexplained facility (and its employees) watching the students as they interact in the cabin. Without giving too much away to spoiler any significant part of the story, these employees have a bigger role than watching these five teenagers try to survive the night.


The Good: The Cabin in the Woods was surprisingly a good mix of horror and comedy. Monsters and scary sounds did tend to just pop up out of nowhere to scare the audience, but there were some truly terrifying moments that made me jump out of my seat. However, I think the comedy side of the film was the true standout piece from the film. At times it was witty and sarcastic - playing off the jokes that most people would have with a horror movie. It was very reminiscent of Scream (1996) and the self-aware and witty ensemble cast that had to survive the series of unfortunate events.


Another note of reference is that the film was co-written and produced by Joss Whedon (known for Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel fame). I mention this because having watched these two shows (among some of his other work), there's a specific style that Joss Whedon is known for and perfects. He is great at writing characters and making them unique. The writing for this movie was incredible - the characters were witty and developed from individualists before being molded into their typical horror movie archetype. Dialogue and a story arc are two key concepts for me when watching a movie, especially a horror movie. Some writers and directors choose to ignore both components in favour of a high body count or blatant nudity. Joss didn't skip out on the essentials for this movie and it shows in the final piece.

The last positive that I want to highlight about The Cabin in the Woods is the overall story and the climatic twist. From watching old horror movies, the idea of a monster and/or killer terrorizing students in the woods is somewhat dated and a concept that has been reused countless times. A great point for the film is that the story takes this one concept idea and develops it into a greater concept that would make the viewer rethink certain horror movie scenario.


The Bad: I only have a few negatives about this movie. The first would be that at times, it did focus on the cheesy side of the horror movie. I do understand it was part of its 'self-aware' horror theme and it was making fun of itself in retrospect; however, some pivotal scenes were so overtly corny that all the viewer could do was to laugh and wonder if these characters actually uttered those lines. One scene in particular with Curt was absolutely hilarious in part to a movie defining move that his characters makes mid-way through the film (not going to spoil it).


The only other negative that I might have with the film is that the CGI special effects could have been touched up a bit. When the monsters started to attack the students and the scene relied on some computer-assisted special effects, this was the moment that need a more realistic enemy. The CGI quality was good for The Cabin in the Woods (don't get me wrong); though, it could have potentially used another week or so to fine tune the quality to its great potential.



The Results: 3.5/5!
Overall, I really did like The Cabin in the Woods. It was a great experience to watch in theatres and it offered me something that I hadn't seen in a movie for a while: a good horror-comedy. Horror movies are an acquired taste and sometimes they're made really good or really bad. Even though at times it could be embarrassing and too corny with its dialogue, it was funny when it needed to be funny - as well as scary as key points. I'd recommend any viewer to watch this movie because if you might be absolutely terrified of horror movies (surprisingly there's a lot of people!), this could be a good halfway point between a "scary" horror movie and a comedy to have a few laughs.

Agree or Disagree with this review? Share your thoughts below and leave a comment to let us know what you thought about the movie.

About Justin Carreiro

Justin is a longtime TV buff and gamer. He loves chatting about shows, playing video and board games, and his not-so-secret love for reality tv. He is also a fan of horror movies, music and a bookworm at heart. He spends his time in Toronto working in PR and Social Media.

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