To be perfectly frank, most of my favorite childhood memories somehow involved horror films. I used to collect Todd McFarlane’s Movie Maniacs action figures and a buddy of mine and I would use them to stage elaborate battles. Freddy Vs. Jason, Jason Vs. Wishmaster, WISHMASTER VS. PINHEAD would have been so sweet! But I digress…
I mention this because while watching “Cabin In The Woods”, The new horror comedy from Joss Whedon (Buffy, The Avengers) and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield), I felt like I was 12 years old again: placing bets on not just how these insipid but attractive teenagers would die, but how and by whom. Waiting for the obligatory tit shot thrown in simply because being 12 years old in the 90’s, that was as close as you could get to soft-core porn. Laughing your ass off when your friend next to you jumps but you don’t. These are the things true horror fans live for. And “Cabin” delivers.
I do truly think that it is impossible to avoid spoilers reviewing this film, but I will try. After the first scene in which you might question whether you are watching the right movie, we are introduced to our typical slasher movie fodder kids played by Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth (of Thor fame. thankfully with shorter hair), Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, and Jesse Williams. Each of them seem normal at first but after a while start to embody the characteristics of the virgin, the whore, the jock, the fool, and the nerd respectively. But why? Figuring that out is one of the films many humorous surprises. They are heading for GASP, a cabin in the woods. But not before stopping and receiving an ominous warning from GASP, an eerie gas station attendant. Feel like you know where this is going? If so, I pity you.
To reveal too much more of the plot would serve to spoil what is arguably the best genre film in recent years. Without saying too much, the film is full of entertaining surprises and scares with tongue placed firmly in cheek. Scenes such as a gleeful homage to the “Ju-on” films of Takashi Shimizu, Hutchison making out with a stuffed wolf, Hemsworth clothes-lining a little girl zombie and then later pulling off what I can only describe as a motorcycle jump that would have Evel Knievel pissing his pants with laughter serve to entertain those with a vast knowledge of horror movie trappings and cliches. That isn’t to say that people who are new to the genre will be put off. But, like most horror films, you will need a strong stomach to endure the relentless orgy of gore towards the end of the film which will cause multiple gore-gasms among slasher movie fans.
Whedon and Goddard know their stuff. This is a near perfect love letter to horror films of old and a wonderful satire of torture porn and zombie films. The supporting cast which features such genre veterans as Richard Jenkins (Let Me In), Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill, Case 39) and even Sigourney Weaver in a neat cameo. If you love the genre, you can’t afford to miss it. If you are new to horror, you can’t afford to miss it. It is that simple. And yes, I know what you’re thinking: “But when will they ever have a slasher movie with a Mer-man?”. Don’t worry… Whedon and Goddard have you covered.
Onto the DVD features: We get a full length commentary with Whedon and Goddard in which they discuss such feats as writing the script together over the course of only three days and having to share a few of the sets simultaneously with the filming of the “Twilight” films (Which also feature Ferland). They truly love what they do and their enthusiasm more than makes up for the somewhat one-note tone. Unfortunately all they are doing after a while is congratulating each-other to the point of subtle arrogance.
Also we are treated to four behind the scenes featurettes. “We Are Not Who We Are: Making The Cabin In The Woods.” focuses on the writing and casting of the film with fun little comments by the cast and crew, Particularly Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. “An Army Of Nightmares: Make-up and Animatronic Effects” centers on the monster-making and flipping awesome zombie make-up designs featured in the film, mostly in the third act. “Primal Terror: Visual Effects” is (you guessed it) about the various CG tricks and digital effects although fan will appreciate the emphasis on practical effects over digital effects. “The Secret Secret Stash” is my favorite, in which Joss Whedon gives us a tour through the cabin and Fran Kranz teaches us the finer points of smoking fake pot through a coffee thermos bong. Also a recording of the Wonder-con Q&A session with Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. Also a Theatrical Trailer for the film, which is pretty standard for a Lionsgate release. All in all a fully stocked DVD for a truly inventive and absolutely hilarious film. Don’t rent it. Buy it.