A sexy blonde, a reticent virgin, a manly athletic type, a geek with glasses, and a stoner go to a cabin in the woods even after being warned off by a mysterious old man. Think you know exactly how this one’s going to go? Think again. The stoner (a delightful Franz Kranz), is the closest thing the film has to a hero, the athlete’s (Chris Hemsworth appearing here before he got famous from Thor) a sociology major, the geek (Jesse Williams of Grey’s Anatomy), is African American and hot, and neither the “good girl” (Kristen Connolly) nor “bad girl” (Anna Hutchinson) are as simple as the typecasting leads us to believe. (And “typecast” is definitely the word to use in this instance as we learn in the film). We get redneck religious backwoods zombies, bongs wielded as weapons, attacks by mermen and unicorns, girls making out with stuffed wolves heads on the walls, and that’s not even the really wild parts!
To say that The Cabin in the Woods, written by geek favorite Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly), and directed by other geek favorite, Drew Goddard (Lost, Cloverfield), re-invents the horror genre doesn’t quite do it justice. It deconstructs the rules of slasher/horror/zombie/sci-fi/conspiracy and comedy all in the space of a 90-minute feature film that also chastises the audience for enjoying these old horror tropes in the first place. Not even Scream dissected the role of archetypes so well, nor did it feature so subversive an ending. As all fans of Whedon’s work know well, the man has a gift for witty dialogue and his latest piece lives up to that role especially a hilarious sequence where a “harbinger of doom” is put on speaker phone with Grand Conspiracy Puppeteer Central Headquarters. The ongoing sick joke of the film is that the Grand Conspiracy Puppeteer Central is run like any other white collar office—this one just happens to have a particularly odd mission.
Sitterson (Bradley Whitford) and Hadley (Richard Jenkins) wouldn’t be unfamiliar in Office Space or Dilbert, nor would their attractive co-worker Lin (Amy Acker who’s worked with Whedon on both Angel and Dollhouse) from the chem department. All of them seem to be having a blast right up into their final awesome blood-soaked sequence—a triumph of Grand Guignol-style carnage candy. The only problem with the movie’s truly mind-blowing and revolutionary ending is that it forestalls almost any chance of a sequel. But perhaps that’s for the best because as stands The Cabin in the Woods is perfectly complete as is.