The Cabin in the Woods - Movie Review


By Craig Thornton

The Cabin in the Woods –Movie Review

The Cabin in the Woods, directed by newcomer Drew Goddard , and written by successful horror/fantasy veteran, Joss Whedon is the best reviewed horror film to hit theaters in a long time. Although the words good review and horror film are rarely featured in the same sentence, the positive pundit praise prompted me into the theatre.  It even scored an 8 on IMDB from viewers.  The gimmick indeed is clever and the entire premise, which essentially pokes fun at films that have unsuspecting libidinous and liquored up clueless co-eds going to some ridiculously remote place to be picked off one by one, is a great movie joke within a movie.  However, for me, the film never gets much smarter than this. There is some clever imagery and twists in the final third of the film that temporarily raises the IQ again, but the film suffers from a “What a great idea we have, aren’t we so great” feeling.

It is debatable whether the five young actors playing the friends that take the ill-fated into the woods journey are bad actors or just playing bad actors in a horror film.  To me it feels like the former, as there just isn’t enough evidence or clarity supporting that the latter, cleverer choice is what the filmmakers are going for.  Too bad, because the five; Kristen Connelly, Chris Hemsworth, Ann Hutchinson, Frank Kranz and Jesse Williams stink on ice compared to the really good actors in the film; Richard Jenkins (Oscar nominee), Bradley Whitford (Emmy winner) and the great Sigourney Weaver.

How much you like “The Cabin in the Woods” will depend on how much you like horror films and solving puzzles. There are moments when the film really soars, as it unravels an interesting story element or uncovers a piece of the puzzle that can be inserted.  However, good horror films scare you and this didn’t scare me at all.  They also make you feel something.  This is sometimes accomplished through character empathy.  There really isn’t any of that here, well maybe a little at the very end.  Some people are calling it a comedy, a satire of horror films, but it isn’t really funny either.  When I think of a film that is both funny and scary I think of the great “Drag Me to Hell” – this is a hell of another kind.

There is some great ideas floating about here, and some interesting imagery – love the boxed nightmares-- but I left the theater thinking, “I just don’t get all the hype” and the film had no resonance for me.  Maybe I am just too old to get this cross-genre hybrid.  It would have helped if the film’s intent at humor felt more fun and silly and less smug and self-satisfying.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016
, Watertown, NY

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