CABIN IN THE WOODS Is a Blast, But Won’t Change Your Life

[Caff Note: With CiTW  dropping this weekend, there’s bound to be spoilers discussion in the comments. I warned you, fools!]

You don’t need to be a fan of Joss Whedon – or, a Whedonite as his diehards are terribly named – to know that his output is wildly smart. The man knows how to play with genre tropes without rubbing how clever he is in our face. Nevertheless, after hearing repeatedly about how innovative The Cabin in the Woods is, I was afraid that it was going to be overly self-conscious like the Scream series and be a massive wink and nudge at how clever Whedon and director Drew Goddard are. Thankfully that’s not the case and Cabin manages to be immensely entertaining without any third act twists. From the first frame Whedon and Goddard slowly feed us information so by the end, you don’t feel duped by a left field twist.

I’m not going to over-hype it though. I’ve read a lot of hyperbole in other reviews – terms like “game-changing” and “brilliant,” other critics declaring that Whedon and Goddard have “revived” the horror genre. If that’s the case, every subsequent horror film is going to have to upstage Cabin, be smarter and more clever than it or risk sucking balls. Let’s just say that Cabin is exceptionally thrilling, funny, and unconventional. It’s not going to change your life but you’ll have a fun ride.

I do agree with other critics on one aspect of Cabin: the less you know the better. I can tell you that five not-so archetypal college kids head to a cabin in the woods. They swim. They party. Things go haywire and horrific things go down. But all of this secrecy begged for by Whedon and Lionsgate has me worried. I fear it’s going to build people’s expectations of a gigantic reveal to a boiling point. Cabin isn’t built around some Keyser Söze-level twist or floppy Crying Game penis. It’s structured with parallel narratives that meet at some point. Nothing innovative or brilliant about that.

What is remarkably clever is the motive behind what plays out in the cabin. It’s a series of events we’ve seen countless times in horror films: naive college kids illogically set-off an unspeakable chain of events that ends in slaughter. But what Whedon and director Goddard do is turn things inside-out so that the characters’ actions makes sense. You know the old moronic “we should split up” choice always made in horror movies? There’s a logical reason it happens in the heightened reality of Cabin.

The ensemble is terrific, especially Fran Kranz as stoner-conspiracy theorist Marty. He’s the voice of reason in the group and managed to pull the most laughs from the audience. Mainly because people LOVE weed jokes. Not even jokes, per se. Someone can just casually slight up a joint in a movie and people crack up. The rest of the kids, including Thor himself Chris Hemsworth, are great, but the best acting comes out of Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford as 9-5 office workers. That’s all I can say about that.

Absolutely go see The Cabin in the Woods in theaters. Bring as many people as you can. Go get drinks after and talk about all the crazy shit you just saw. You’ll have a blast as long as you aren’t expecting to have your mind blown. Cabin hits theaters this Friday.