When a horror film opens with five college kids climbing into a caravan and heading off to spend the weekend at an isolated cottage in the woods, you pretty much know how things are going to pan out. After all they’ve made dozens of horror movies around this premise!
But The Cabin in the Woods, co-written by Joss Whedon and Cloverfield scribe Drew Goddard (who also directs), is not your typical horror movie.
Sure our protagonists discover a basement with all kinds of creepy books and toys, and soon enough a family of zombies shows up and starts killing them one by one…but there’s another plot component here involving two wisecracking tech guys who’re using hidden cameras to monitor the slaughter from an underground control room. It doesn’t take long to figure out that the five teens have been set up; they’re being manipulated in a Truman Show-like scenario.
If you’re worried that I may have given away what sounds like it’s probably the twist of this film, don’t worry – it’s not.
As the film continues to reveal itself, you notice The Cabin in the Woods is not so much a horror movie as it is a spoof on the slasher-film genre and particularly on films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Scream.
On one level, it’s also a satire on voyeurism if you like. Think about it…each time one of our protagonists gets attacked brutally, the film cuts back to show us the techies in the science-lab below orchestrating the whole experience. And hence these ‘attacks’ or these ‘killings’ seem tongue-in-cheek.
Until this point the film is interesting and baffling even…your curiosity is aroused as to what could possibly be the big reason behind this elaborate setup. But when that question is finally answered, you can’t help feeling underwhelmed, because the big reveal is so lame.
There’s lots of blood, but it’s not very scary. The film coasts along nicely, seldom boring you, until it delivers that unconvincing end. I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for The Cabin in the Woods. It’s original and imaginative, but anyone seeking genuine scares is unlikely to be satisfied.